Alleged shooter denies he had gun

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette
Defendant Dwayne Jaleel Hall, right, is led into the Lycoming County Courthouse by a member of the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday morning as Hall’s trial for allegedly shooting and killing Irahmeen Mills on Sept. 6, 2015, continues.

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Defendant Dwayne Jaleel Hall, right, is led into the Lycoming County Courthouse by a member of the Lycoming County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday morning as Hall’s trial for allegedly shooting and killing Irahmeen Mills on Sept. 6, 2015, continues.

The man who allegedly shot and killed Irahmeen Mills outside of a bar on West Fourth Street in 2015 concluded three days of testimony by taking the stand Wednesday.

When asked by his attorney, Joshua Bower, if he shot and killed the 25-year-old Mills, Dwayne Jaleel Hall answered with a firm, “No, sir.”

Hall, 27, was charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and weapons charges for allegedly firing one .380 ACP round into Mills across the street from a bar at 762 W. Fourth St. just before 1 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2015.

“Did you have a gun that night,” Bower asked. “No, sir,” Hall said.

During three days of testimony in Lycoming County Court, some witnesses identified Hall as the man they saw shifting a gun from the front to the back of his pants and that the shooting was a culmination of bad blood that formed before the morning of the murder.

“I knew him (Mills) so-so,” Hall said. “But not very well … I met him two or three weeks prior to that night.”

Hall also said he had no problems, bad blood or “beef” with Mills and that he didn’t “hate” him like prior testimony from an old cellmate indicated.

Although Mills and Hall weren’t fighting inside of the bar, Hall said they did begin to argue when Mills tried to interrupt a conversation he was having with a woman outside.

Testimony from Tuesday alluded to the fight between the two men being about family business, but Hall denied that Wednesday.

“I called her sister,” Hall said. “But that’s more of a Muslim term. It didn’t have to do with family business.”

After Hall put the intoxicated Mills down on the steps outside of the bar, he said he walked across the street and was standing near Walnut Street where he heard the shot echo through the street.

Hall found out about the warrant for his arrest in connection with the fatal shooting on Sept. 17, 2015, he said.

But he didn’t turn himself in because he wanted to see the ultrasound for his first child scheduled weeks later.

“It was my first child and I wanted to see what I was having,” Hall said, “Either way I was looking at it, I woulda been in prison until the stage we’re at now anyway.”

Hall said he was going to turn himself into police after he saw the ultrasound.

Instead, he was taken into custody in October of 2015– a month after the shooting– when members of the county’s Special Response Team lobbed a .40mm gas round into the second floor of the Timberland Apartments residence where he was staying.

During the time between the shooting and Hall’s arrest, he was floating between an apartment under a fake name, hotels and friends’ houses in Timberland Apartments, he said.

During the morning of the shooting, Darrell Davis and Austin McCloskey were at Davis’ house on Mifflin Place when they went outside to see the fight they had heard develop from the back porch.

“I heard a lot of arguing and loud yelling on Fourth Street,” McCloskey said. “And something along the lines of ‘we can do this right here.’ “

Davis said he saw one of the men holding a magazine-fed handgun. But both men heard the shot.

Both Davis and McCloskey initially told police they saw four black males in two separate groups involved in the fight before the shooting, but Davis said Wednesday he wasn’t sure.

“I was confused by so many people running in so many directions,” Davis said.

The two also described the shooter as wearing a white shirt — not the black shirt, black pants and black and orange baseball cap Hall admitted to wearing that morning.

“But are you going to quote me on that,” Davis asked during cross examination. “Because I remember telling police during the interview not to quote me on that.”

Testifying as an expert witness in eyewitness identification, Margaret Reardon, described research that indicates accurate memory is easily distorted or changed by the presence of a weapon.

A jury will deliberate later today after closing statements from the attorneys.