Deon White remembers that he was celebrating his 41st birthday with his cousin, Korleone Young, on Jan,. 19, 2011.
He said they decided to go to a house at 1822 N. Minneapolis to watch a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game, drink some beer and do a little gambling.
“What kind of money are we talking about?” prosecutor Justen Phelps asked.
“I had like 50 bucks in my pocket,” White said.
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It wasn’t a high-stakes dice game, he said. “We was just shooting for a dollar or two.”
White said the party atmosphere quickly faded when a man came through the front door, cocked a handgun and said he was robbing the place.
“I remember seeing that gun come out, and my reaction was to get out the door,” White said. “I stayed low and tried to get out the door.”
“Were you the first one out the door? Phelps asked.
“It might have been a tie between me and Korleone,” White said.
White’s testimony came on the sixth day of the first-degree murder trial of Terrell Cole, 32, who is charged with killing Andre Lovett, 30, during a botched robbery. Prosecutors said that Cole fired a shot at Young as he ran from the scene, and that the bullet struck Lovett in the abdomen.
Wichita police said someone driving a blue Chevrolet van — a van that Cole had been driving that day — dropped Lovett off at Wesley Medical Center shortly after the shooting. Lovett died the next day.
Testimony last week showed that a shell casing found at the scene of the shooting matched casings that were found four days later after someone opened fire on a house in the 2600 block of North Madison where White and Young were staying.
None of the witnesses has identified Cole as the shooter, though one described him to detectives as a “big burly dude ... well over 280” pounds.
Kansas Department of Corrections records show that Cole is 6-foot-3 and weighs 315 pounds. He served time in prison on a 2002 drug conviction and was paroled in 2006.
Defense lawyer Richard Ney said in his opening statement that a number of people might have been driving Cole’s van on the night of the shooting, and Ney suggested that the real shooter was a man who went by the nickname “Big.” Ney said that Lovett’s cell phone showed that he had talked to “Big” several times in the hours before the shooting.
Police Lt. Todd Ojile, called Monday as a prosecution witness, gave little weight to Ney’s theory. Ojile told the jury that detectives were focused on Cole.
“So basically, 24 hours into the case, you had a suspect, didn’t you?” Ney asked.
“Yes,” Ojile replied.
“Still do?” Ney asked.
“Yes,” Ojile said. “Everything pointed to Mr. Cole.”
Although no one has been able to identify Cole as the shooter, prosecutors won a victory Monday when District Judge Ben Burgess ruled that they would be allowed to show the jury a videotaped statement that Young gave to police shortly after the shooting. Although Young wasn’t able to identify Cole in court, prosecutors said his actions in the video tape show that he picked Cole’s picture from a photo lineup of six possible suspects on the day after the shooting.
The tape is expected to be shown to the jury on Tuesday.