Hearing for 2 suspects in city killing
“I heard a bang and Terell drops.”
That what Colton Engel, a friend of Terell Hasan Henderson-Littles, the 21-year-old slain in an alley off Susquehanna Avenue at dusk Jan. 9, said during Friday’s preliminary hearing for alleged suspects Mirad “Rad” Shabazz, 20, and Jason “Spaza” C. Gardner, 19, both of Easton.
The men, who are allegedly responsible for the execution-style shooting had homicide and related offenses bound over for Lycoming County Court at the hearing before District Judge James G. Carn.
District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt presented Engel and two other witnesses while defense attorney Robert Hoffa and county Public Defender William J. Miele tried with cross examination of witnesses to punch holes in the city police investigation.
Engel, who testified he knew Henderson-Little for two years, said he drove his friend to the site after Henderson-Littles made a cell phone call. He was going there to sell weed, according to Engel.
Engel also pointed out Shabazz and Gardner as at the scene, an alley off Susquehanna Avenue between West Fourth and West Third streets.
Engel recalled driving his friend, who asked him to drop him off and drive around the block.
He testified seeing Shabazz standing in front of Henderson-Littles with his arm raised, but said he did not see a gun.
Engel said he heard the bang, saw blood fly and his friend collapse to the ground.
Engel also saw the men run toward Susquehanna Avenue out of the alley.
He achingly recalled his friend dying as he called 911 and ran to summon help from the Pennsylvania College of Technology police.
Under cross examination, Engel testified that he never knew who Henderson-Littles spoke to on the cell phone before being dropped off for the drug deal.
“You don’t know who he was meeting, there was no text message sent,” Hoffa said to Engel. “You didn’t recognize the number?” Hoffa asked.
Engel told Hoffa he could see Henderson-Littles standing outside the truck, but only when he leaned over from the driver’s side of the truck and look out the passenger seat window.
It occurred in a dark parking lot at dusk, Engel testified upon questioning by Hoffa.
Miele asked Engel to recall the moment he saw the man raising his arm.
“You didn’t see his hand, and you weren’t watching the other defendant on Henderson-Little’s right side, nor what Terrel was doing,” Miele said. “You also don’t know if he (Gardner) had a weapon,” Miele said to Engel.
Linhardt asked a second witness, Isaiah Fulton, whether he knew either of the defendants.
“I knew them for a couple of months,” Fulton said.
According to Fulton’s testimony, the two defendants, himself and another man identified as Antonio Carpenter were at a city woman’s apartment and left to “buy some weed.”
Fulton testified that Gardner had asked Shabazz to commit a robbery and that Gardner had a sawed-off shotgun with tape on it. The first time Fulton said he saw the gun was in Easton and said the gun was kept in a book bag or backpack.
Fulton testified Gardner had carried the gun in the bag and they went their separate ways before the shooting, about two or three blocks from the alley where Henderson-Littles was slain.
The gun was nicknamed “Bishop,” a reference to a movie.
Fulton testified he heard a bang from a gun, saw a white light flash across the street from the college and saw Shabazz run out of the alley and walk up to them. Fulton said he, Gardner, Shabazz, and Carpenter walked back to the woman’s apartment and that Shabazz wanted to put bleach on Gardner’s hands in the bathroom.
Gardner and Shabazz went into a bathroom with some bleach and the group continued to smoke marijuana, according to Fulton’s testimony. None of them spoke about what had happened, until a telephone call was received about a “murder” that had occurred. Fulton testified that Shabazz said Gardner had shot Henderson-Littles. He testified they fled the city, drove to Milton and went back to Easton.
On cross examination, Fulton admitted he didn’t know Henderson-Littles, or his reputation but was, in fact, hanging out for three days in the city getting high.
City Police Agent Raymond O. Kontz III said he interviewed Shabazz, who told him the shooter was Gardner. He said Henderson-Littles reached out to grab the gun and that they went to the scene to commit a robbery.
Kontz testified that when he interviewed Gardner he said he was in the alley in the parking lot and as he turned he heard a bang and didn’t know who shot whom until later when he met up with Shabazz at the woman’s apartment.
The gun was found at the rear of 901 Vine Ave., stashed near a church, Kontz said. Shabazz gave a description of the gun.
An autopsy done on Jan. 11 concluded the young man died of a gunshot wound to the head. Manner of death was homicide, Kontz said.
Miele said there was no testimony to show Shabazz had a weapon in his possession.
Engel saw a man in a white hoodie raising his arm and was not watching Gardner nor Henderson-Littles at the time of the shooting, Miele said.
Additionally, Miele said, the autopsy shows the gun wound damage was to the right jaw line to the right scalp.
“The significance of that is that Shabazz was seen by Engel as standing in front of Henderson-Littles and Gardner was to his right,” Miele said.
Testimony also was consistent that the gun belonged to Gardner, Miele said.
Each faces criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault, carrying firearms without a license, possession instruments of crime, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, flight to avoid apprehension and prohibited offensive weapons, according to Hoffa.
No trial date had been scheduled as of Friday.