(KYTX) -- Day 3 of Dennis Bendy's murder trial got underway Thursday morning in the Smith County 241st District Court. Bendy is one of three men accused of taking part in a gang-related shootout, the crossfire of which killed 20-year-old Briana Young at Tyler's P.T. Cole Park on July 30, 2013.
Day 1's opening arguments saw District Attorney Matt Bingham describe bendy to the jury as a gang member who lawlessly took a public park and made it a death trap. A gang expert from the Tyler Police Department testified that Bendy is a documented member of the Westside Rolling 60s gang in Tyler. Young's son's aunt, who was at the park the night of the shooting, testified that Young was still alive and gasping for air several minutes after being shot in the chest and leg.
Day 2 consisted largely of testimony from two self-described gang members. Rakheem Goldstein of the Westside Rolling 60s is Bendy's co-defendant in Young's alleged murder. He said he was there the night of the shooting, described the events, and told jurors Bendy did fire a gun into the park. Goldstein said a rival gang member, K.J. Wilson Hurd, was the target of the shooting. A friend of Hurd's named Darrian Lee, also describing himself as a gang member, took the stand to recount his version of the shooting.
A man named Katyron Barrett was the first witness Thursday. He told jurors he was the person to whom Goldstein and Bendy brought two guns for disposal immediately following the shooting. Barrett had previously been known under the street name "Main." He said he handed off the guns to another person who hid them in the woods along a rural county road.
"Do you recall who was driving that night?" Bingham asked.
"No sir," Barrett said.
"Is it your testimony that Rakheem gave you that bag of guns?" Barrett said.
"Yes sir," Barrett said.
Bingham asked whether Barrett had touched either of the guns after receiving them. Barrett said he did not think he did, at which point Bingham played an exerpt of a video-recorded interview Barrett had done with the Tyler Police Department. In that interview Barrett admitted to touching the guns.
Barrett said the video jogged his memory and he agreed he may have touched the guns. He admitted to having provided a DNA sample to compare to samples taken from the guns.
Bingham asked whether Elisha Williams was in the car with Bendy and Goldstein when they came to Barrett's home. Barrett said Williams was in the car, in contradiction to previous testimony that Williams fled the scene of the shooting and did not leave in the car with Bendy and Goldstein.
On cross-examination defense attorney
"On a scale of one to ten, you said you were certain, a ten, that Dennis Bendy and Rakheem Goldstein came to your house that night," Thompson said.
"Yes sir," Barrett said.
"On that same scale of one to ten, how high were you that night?" Thompson asked.
"I was fully baked," Barrett said.
Thompson asked about Barrett's assertion that Goldstein was the one who handed him the guns, and whether that led him to believe Goldstein was the one "in charge." Barrett said he did believe Goldstein was running things.
"Do you remember whether you were high the day you went and talked to the police?" Thompson asked?"
"I do not," Barrett said.
"Did you smoke last night?" Thompson asked.
"Yes," Barrett said.
"Did you smoke the night before last?" Thompson asked.
"Yes," Barrett said.
On re-direct Bingham asked who Barrett gets his marijuana from. Barrett said he did not know the names of any of his suppliers.
"I could ask you that all day and you're not going to tell me are you?" Bingham asked.
"No sir," Barrett said.Thompson then asked whether anyone had sold any Xanax the night Goldstein and Bendy came to Barrett's home. Barrett said no Xanax was sold, countering Goldstein's testimony that he purchased Xanax while there.
Tyler Police Detective Gregg Roberts was the next witness called. He said his first involvement in the case was to investigate a traffic stop involving the white Cadillac that was pulled over near the scene and which contained K.J. Wilson Hurd and Darrian Lee. The detective said he also interviewed numerous people involved in the case.
Following some cursory testimony regarding ways of obtaining phone records, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Biggs produced a copy of phone records from Bendy's phone. Biggs asked Roberts to highlight phone calls from or to Katyron Barrett as well as Madeline Wallace. Wallace is Goldstein's former girlfriend whose car was allegedly used in shooting.
Roberts testified that one call between Wallace and Bendy clearly coincided with the swap of the silver Lincoln and the white Elantra at the Food Fast on Vine. He said additional calls supported the second swap, when the two traded their cars back to each other after the shooting.
Roberts said Katyron Barrett received a phone call from Bendy just four minutes after Young's murder. He said that call supported claims that Bendy used Barrett to get rid of the guns.An attempt by the prosecution to enter into evidence a diagram of cell phone tower locations resulted in a lengthy bench conference after which Roberts gave brief testimony regarding the generalities of cell phone location triangulation.
Roberts then stood to examine and mark a large diagram of the City of Tyler in which cell phone tower locations and prominent locations from this case had been previously labelled.
Roberts testified that various calls previously discussed were routed through individual towers which would corroborate the claims made by witnesses. In other words, they were at least approximately where they claimed to be at each point during their various versions of the events surrounding the shooting.
Roberts also testified to the fact that Williams, Goldstein and Bendy are all members of the Westside Rolling 60s. He said Hurd is a member of the Five Deuce Hoover Crips.
"Do you know why this shooting occurred?" Biggs asked.
"It was an ongoing feud between those gangs," Roberts said. "Over what they believe is power and respect."
Roberts testified that Barrett had helped to recover the AK-47 and the Glock allegedly used by Bendy and Goldstein the night of the shooting. He said a separate set of events involving a meeting at Broadways Square Mall allowed him to obtain the Ruger allegedly used by Williams that night.
Biggs produced the Ruger taken into evidence. Roberts testified that it was the gun taken in during the investigation and obtained from a man by the street name of "Slick" or "Stick" who had been mentioned in earlier testimony. Roberts said he believed the gun had been buried under ground between the time of the shooting and the time it was turned over to the police department.
On cross-examination Thompson asked how the meeting at the mall was conducted. Roberts said Stephen Whitemon (Slick/Stick) met them in public view, had the gun in his waist band and allowed Roberts and another officer to recover the gun from that location. He said id occurred approximately one month after the shooting.
Thompson asked whether Roberts could say what kind of coverage area a cell phone tower has at any given time, going to how close people involved in this case would have to be to a tower to be detected by it. Roberts said he was not aware of that type of information. Prosecutors called Ron Kennedy as their next witness. Kennedy is a radio frequency engineer for Sprint. Kennedy verified the document previously shown to and used by Detective Roberts as a valid record of the locations and identifiers of Sprint's towers in the Tyler area.
Biggs showed Kennedy a copy of Roberts' previously marked version of Bendy's phone records. Kennedy testified that part of each call record was not only which tower the phone was connected to, but which of three sets of antennae, each serving a third of the 360-degree sweep around the tower.
In the case of calls between bendy and Wallace, allegedly regarding the car switch, Kennedy said both were made on a tower on East Ferguson and covered by an antenna that points to a compass direction of 300 degrees. He said a call between Bendy and Barrett allegedly concerning getting rid of the guns was routed through a tower on Ninth Street and covered by an antenna aimed at a compass direction of 265 degrees.
Biggs made a second attempt to introduce a map with shaded areas corresponding to the specific antennae in question and their coverage zones. Judge Jack Skeen, Jr. allowed it over objections from the defense.
Kennedy reviewed the document and agreed that it accurately represented coverage zones for the specific antennae in question. He proceeded to draw similar coverage zones representations onto the large diagram of tyler showing key locations from the case. Once the coverage zones were diagrammed, Kennedy plotted and labelled numerous individual phone calls from Bendy's phone based on where they fell on the map and at what time.Biggs asked Kennedy whether Bendy's phone could have been located at 5105 Old Bullard Road at the time of the shooting, based on calls made within minutes of Young's death. Kennedy said it was not possible. The significance was not immediately clear. However, it seemed likely that the testimony was meant to counter any potential claim or alibi involving Bendy having been somewhere other than P.T. Cole Park during the shooting.
Kennedy said the tower that was used by Bendy's phone during those calls would be the logical tower to serve calls made from P.T. Cole Park.
"Is it possible that a call made in one tower's area of coverage could be routed to another tower?" Thompson asked on cross-examination.
"Yes, it's possible," Kennedy said.
"Is the nearest tower always the strongest signal?" Thompson asked.
"I wouldn't say always," Kennedy said.
Kennedy conceded that congested network conditions, among other things, could cause calls to be routed to alternate towers further from the caller's location.On re-direct, Biggs asked Kennedy whether the shooting fell during a time of network congestion. Kennedy said he did not believe so and that there was no record of disruption, special conditions or anything else that would lead him to believe the tower nearest to Bendy's phone wouldn't have been able to handle his calls.
"If I told you that the phone was sitting next to a man who was shooting people at P.T. Cole park at 9:39 that night, would that be consistent with the records you've reviewed?" Biggs asked.
"Yes," Kennedy said.
"And if someone said he was at 5150 Old Bullard Road at that time, would he by lying or telling the truth?" Biggs asked.
"He would not be telling the truth," Kennedy said.
Tyler Police Detective Nathan Elliot was the next witness. He testified that he had been involved in the investigation of a home on Mockingbird that was hit by one of the stray bullts from the shooting.
Elliot authenticated the bullet that was removed from the structure of the home. He said he collected it from the homeowner who had taken the bullet to work with him in Gresham.
The state next called Tyler Police Officer Jessica Doughten. She has been a patrol officer for the PD since 2008. She has additional training in crime scene investigation. Doughten said she responded to the shooting at the park.
Doughten said she photographed Young's body, EMS workers and the trace evidence of blood on the body of Young's son. She said she collected each piece of the boy's clothing as evidence and then verified the legitimacy of the clothing items when presented in court.
Doughten identified the shorts as being size 3T. On the tag she identified dried blood. Doughten also identified dried blood on the Crocs and shirt the little boy had been wearing the night of his mom's murder.
"Officer Doughten did you have a choice but to strip that child of his clothing?" Biggs said.
"I had no choice," Doughten said.
"And you knew he had just seen his mom killed?" Biggs asked.
"Yes sir," Doughten said.
"What was his demeanor as you removed his clothing?" Biggs asked.
"He was very upset," Doughten said.