Last witness testifies in trial for fatal birthday party shooting

December 13, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun Reporter

An 18-year-old woman told a jury she has no doubt that one of the co-defendants accused of killing her uncle last year at a birthday party was the person who fired the deadly gunshots, according to trial testimony yesterday.

Takia Goode testified in Baltimore Circuit Court that she saw Jamal Charles' arm extend from his body during a confrontation with Bryant C. Jones, then saw flashes of light.

Charles, 17, is charged with first-degree murder, along with co-defendant Dwayne Drake. Jones was shot to death in April at his home while hosting a Sweet 16 party for his daughter, Tamirra Jones. The defendants were juveniles at the time but were charged as adults. The murder weapon was not recovered.

Before the shooting, Charles, Drake and others who came with them were asked to leave the party in the home's basement after an argument with another girl, according to court testimony.

As they were leaving, Charles and Drake stopped on the porch and demanded a refund of a $1 admission fee. After a brief argument with Bryant Jones over the money, prosecutors say Drake, 18, urged Charles to shoot Jones.

During yesterday's testimony, Goode identified Charles in the courtroom as the gunman, but during cross-examination, said she never saw the weapon. Goode said she could only see a jerking motion by Charles' arm and three flashes of light.

"Everything went by so fast," said Goode, who testified to being a few feet away from her uncle during the incident. "Jamal was standing there with the flashes in front of him."

Goode told the jury that she saw Drake give Charles an object moments before the shots rang out.

But that testimony was inconsistent with written and taped statements she gave the night of the attack and three days later. Goode told investigators that Drake was part of the argument between Charles and Jones over the $1 fee, but she did not say at the time that Drake handed Charles an item before the shooting.

During cross-examination, Goode said she might have told police of Drake's involvement the night of the shooting, but it may not have been understood on the audio tape because she was crying uncontrollably.

"I'm not saying it's definite, but I'm saying it's a possibility," Goode said.

The prosecution finished its case yesterday, and the defense is not expected to call any witnesses. Closing arguments are scheduled for this morning.

During the trial, which started last Friday, relatives and neighbors who were at the party delivered similar accounts of the verbal confrontation between Jones and the two defendants.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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