Deliberation continues in murder trial

After deliberating most of Thursday afternoon, the jurors in the murder trial of Dwayne Jaleel Hall were sent home and will continue working towards a verdict today.

Hall, 27, is fighting homicide and other charges for allegedly shooting and killing Irahmeen Mills, across the street from a bar on 762 W. Fourth St., after an argument toppled into fatal violence just before 1 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2015.

Before the jury was sent to deliberate Thursday, the attorneys in the case made closing statements.

“In this trial, words matter,” Joshua Bower, Hall’s attorney, said. “Because there is so little physical evidence.”

During the three days of testimony, people that were in the area of the bar the night Mills was killed told contradicting stories from the time of the initial 911 call to their testimony this week.

Bower urged the jurors to focus on the initial words each witness said during 911 calls and taped interviews with city police.

“Much of the testimony is so jumbled and tainted … the initial words matter. Those original words give us the clearest picture of what’s being disputed at trial.”

While testifying Monday, Seth T. Allison, the bartender that night, said he heard the shot and saw the muzzle flash from the gun that sent Mills to the ground.

“But according to the 911 call, he doesn’t say he saw the shot, but just that he heard it,” Bower said.

Trent Aikey was picking up a passenger from the bar when he saw a man he first described as wearing a striped shirt readjust a handgun to the back of his waistband. Moments later when he was near Maynard Street, Aikey heard the shot.

But Hall confirmed he was wearing a black shirt and a hat and Mills was seen on camera wearing the striped shirt Aikey, at first, identified the shooter as wearing.

“Mr. Aikey explained he was confused by the stress of seeing the gun and he was sure that it was the man in the striped shirt,” Bower said. “But now, a year later, he is sure it was the man in the black shirt and black and orange hat.”

Mills was intoxicated the morning of the shooting and although Allison said he refused to serve him that morning, he also said he wasn’t belligerent, Assistant District Attorney Nicole M. Ippolito said.

“How do we know it’s the defendant who shot and killed Irahmeen Mills,” Ippolito asked the jury. “Because no one else has been shown to have a motive. Hall was the only person arguing with Mills that night and the only person that had the reason or motive to shoot Mills.”

When Hall found out he had a warrant out for his arrest nearly two weeks after the shooting, he said he began moving between an apartment under a fake name, friends’ houses and hotels.

“He (Hall) actively tried to hide from police,” Ippolito said.

Police couldn’t find the phone Hall was carrying or the clothes he was wearing that morning.

“This is a guy that says he is innocent,” Ippolito said. “This is not the way an individual who has done nothing wrong acts.”

When he took the stand Wednesday, Hall agreed that Mills wasn’t a threat that night.

“Why is Mr. Mills dead today,” Ippolito asked the jury. “He was a drunk man that was no threat to the defendant … But he (Hall) pulled a gun out and fired only feet away. And what does he do? He walks off to another bar. That is the definition of a cold-hearted killer.”

The jury picks up their deliberation at 9 a.m. today.