Homicide case in the hands of the jury
Both attorneys in the homicide trial of Raymaar Alford gave lengthy closing arguments Tuesday as to why the defendant should be found either guilty or innocent in the killing of Kevan Connolly.
But starting today, the jury will weigh all the evidence and testimony in the events surrounding the July 9, 2012, shooting in Williamsport’s Flanigan Park.
Lycoming County Judge Nancy Butts is expected to give the jury its final instructions at 8:30 a.m. before it begins deliberating the case.
At the outset of his closing statement, Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt said the case really comes down to a telephone conversation Anita Jackson had with her brother Antwine Jackson from his jail cell in which she claims to have seen Alford shoot Connolly.
Testimony in the trial had placed Anita Jackson on a park bench facing the basketball court when a fight broke out there involving Kevan Connolly, his brother Braheem Connolly, Alford and others.
Following that skirmish, gunshots rang out in the park, according to different testimony.
Defense attorney Donald Martino, in his closing argument, contended that the prosecution presented a case full of contradictions and inconsistencies as well as witnesses who lied either to police or in court.
Martino asked the jury to recall the video from the city bus traveling north on Walnut Street a block from Flanigan Park shortly after the shooting in which people can be seen fleeing the scene.
Among the images from the video is one the prosecution has contended shows three young men running on Walnut Street, each with single hands at their waists in what has been described as “tucking” or holding a gun.
“Isn’t that a contradiction?” Martino said. “I’d say it’s the whopper of the trial.”
Martino explained that suddenly evidence showed possibly three gunmen involved in the shooting instead of two.
Earlier testimony also placed Qu Mar Moore, a cousin of Raymaar Alford, as the other gunman at the park that evening. Moore came to the park to settle a score with Braheem Connolly over a woman identified as Kayla Marshall, according to testimony.
Martino said the bus video only adds to a trial already riddled with confusion.
Linhardt argued that Alford, when confronted by police with the video, admitted he was one of the men identified running from the park and tucking a gun.
Martino questioned the credibility of Shareef Thompson, a witness granted immunity who testified last week that he drove Alford, Ravon Blow-Enty and Stacey Cooley to Flanigan Park the night of the shooting.
He noted that some of the key facts Thompson told police after the shooting differed from his testimony in court, including whether or not he saw Alford with a gun at the park.
Linhardt told the jury that it must consider the entire body of evidence in the case.
He pointed to the evidence revealing calls to and from the cellphones of Alford and Blow-Enty revealing a large amount of activity following the shooting.
“They were all talking to each other,” he said.
He also noted the cell tower records tracing the general location of the calls and the movements of those making the calls.
Blow-Enty’s phone calls that evening and into the next day are traced all the way to his home in Philadelphia.
Alford and Moore were arrested in Philadelphia two months after the shooting.
Martino argued that the volume of calls made from the phones means nothing.
After all, everyone who was in the park the night of the shooting was talking about it.
“Let’s assume Alford had his phone after the shooting,” he said. “He was at the shooting as was everybody else. Rumors were flying all over the place.”
He noted that the prosecution’s own witness, Thompson, testified Alford didn’t have his phone after the shooting.
Martino questioned why Blow-Enty’s cell tower records were traced all the way to Philadelphia, but those for Alford’s phone were traced only to Montoursville.
“Why didn’t they (prosecution) do it with Alford’s phone?” he asked. “It stopped in Lycoming County.”
Martino acknowledged while Alford eventually did end up in Philadelphia, his phone did not.
Linhardt noted testimony given by three key witnesses that Alford shot Kevan Connolly.
“If you believe their eyewitness testimony, which is completely consistent, your job is done,” he told the jury.
He recalled the statements made by the defendant to Thompson in which he said, “I caught my first body, and I’ll do it again.”