TYLER (KYTX) - Day 4 of Dennis Bendy's murder trial got underway Friday 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.
Day 3's major testimony came from a network engineer employed by Sprint. Bendy's phone at the time of the shooting ran on Sprint's network. The engineer testified that it's highly likely Bendy's phone was in the near vicinity of the park at the time of the shooting. A Tyler Police officer testified that she was the one who collected clothing from Young's three-year-old son at the scene because it was bloody. She said the boy was upset after having seen his mother killed in the park that night.
Investigator Craig Williams with the Tyler Police Department resumed his testimony Friday. Bingham asked him to testify as to the veracity of a few basic facts in the case, including the fact that Young had been shot by a firearm, that such an act would constitute murder under Texas law and that shooting at someone without hitting them is considered aggravated assault.
On cross-examination defense attorney Rex Thompson asked whether Williams knew if Young's body had been moved after death. He said he could not be sure, having not been there at the time, but that blood trail evidence indicated that the body had not been moved.
Williams said the evidence supported previous testimony indicating that Young had been at the park's red picnic table and then ran to the east as shots rang out.
Williams testified that investigators found nearly twenty shell casings at the scene. They were concentrated in the road on Mockingbird (where Bendy is alleged to have been while shooting) and in a northwestern section of the park (where co-defendant Elisha Williams is alleged to have been. He further testified that bullets were found embedded in the ground, in trees and elsewhere.
Bingham asked about trouble investigators encountered in trying to test the guns for fingerprints and DNA. Williams said the fact that the guns had been buried in dirt contributed to a general deterioration of the evidence on the guns. He further said that testing procedures for fingerprints are often destructive to DNA and vice versa, describing a catch 22 in this case that resulted in a decision to test for DNA. The results were inconclusive.
Tyler Police Detective Kenneth Gardner was the next witness.