MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – A man testified Tuesday that he saw an acquaintance shoot his friend and business partner unprovoked outside his Tennessee home in a killing that authorities say sparked a day-long crime spree that paralyzed Memphis and led to an intense quests.
Marcus Cash was one of four people at a gathering at his home to testify at a preliminary hearing for 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly, who is accused of killing three people and injuring three others on Sept. 7 while driving around Memphis, live streaming some of the his activities on social networks.
The shooting shut down most of the city. While police searched for the attacker, the minor league Memphis Redbirds cleared the field during the game and public transportation was halted. Friends and relatives texted each other to make sure they were okay.
Kelly was arrested after he crashed during a police chase that night. He was originally charged only with first-degree murder in the killing of Dewayne Tunstall around 1 a.m. outside Cash’s East Memphis home. Tuesday’s preliminary hearing was only about that point.
Kelly was later charged in a 26-count indictment related to other shootings. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to charges that include first degree murder of Allison Parker and Richard Clark, attempted murder and committing an act of terrorism.
Mariko Webb, Marquez Murrell and Markaveon Walker testified that they and Kelly went to Cash’s house to eat chicken from a food truck, which Cash and Tunstall planned to start as a business. Those gathered carried weapons, but they enjoyed each other’s company, witnesses said.
“We were chilling, we were chilling,” Webb said.
At one point, Kelly told Webb he was going to get someone’s gun, Webb testified.
“Watch this,” Kelly said, according to the web.
After eating, the group went outside to check out the food truck, witnesses said. The group then gathered in a dark driveway to talk, witnesses said.
Cash said he was standing next to Tunstall when Kelly shot Tunstall at close range.
“He was so close to me, I thought I was next,” Cash said.
After the shooting, Kelly tried to get into a car with Webb, Murrell and Walker but was denied entry, Murrell said.
“Everybody was screaming, ‘Get away from us,'” Murrell said.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Case, pressed witnesses to have guns on them and suggested some of them gathered to discuss the shooting afterward to hatch a plan to “pin” it on Kelly. They denied it.
When questioned by Case, Webb said that Kelly had been taking drugs and not sleeping much.
Case also questioned Cash about statements he made to police and the media after the shooting about being in his home when the shooting happened. Cash said he lied about being at the home – where his two young children and his girlfriend were – to avoid being identified as a witness while Kelly was on the run. At least one bullet went through the window of the room where the children were in bed.
“I’m protecting my family,” Cash said.
While witnesses said they heard gunfire and ran or hid for protection, only Cash said he actually saw Kelly shoot Tunstall.
After testifying, prosecutor Chris Lareau said Kelly’s statements about taking someone else’s gun were premeditated.
Case argued that the witness statements were inconsistent and not credible. However, Shelby County Common Sessions Judge Karen Massey ruled there was sufficient probable cause to present the case to a grand jury for a possible first-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors said the two cases against Kelly will eventually be combined.