WATERLOO — Even though only one bullet struck and killed Otavious Brown as he stood next to a Logan Avenue home, all three people in the SUV where the shooting came from should be held accountable, prosecutors said.
“All people involved in this drive-by shooting would be responsible for the one bullet that actually hit and killed Otavious Brown. They are all responsible because they were all jointly committing this crime,” said Assistant County Attorney James Katcher during closings in the state’s case against Armand Rollins, Shavondes Martin and Doncorrion Spates.
All three are charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a weapon with intent in the July 17, 2016, shooting that killed Brown, 21, and wounded Aundrey Roberts Jr. and Dewon Campbell.
Deliberations in the case are expected to begin this morning.
Katcher said the three were passengers in a Chevrolet Tahoe that drove past a group of people outside 817 Logan Ave. The driver, Jacques Williamson, claimed the three forced him at gunpoint to drive past the address as he was taking them back from a trip to a Broadway Street convenience store.
Katcher said Rollins, Martin and Spates had planned to get Williamson to drive to the location as part of a plot for the shooting.
“All they wanted to do was do some shooting, and if somebody dies, that’s great,” Katcher said. He said even if all three weren’t shooting — police found four .45-caliber shell casings fired by the same weapon and one spent 10mm casing — they were aiding and abetting each other.
And he said even if they hadn’t planned to take a life and only wanted to scare people, they can still be found guilty of murder because they took a life while participating in a felony.
“It may have been that they never intended to kill anybody,” Katcher said. “If you have multiple guns being fired at a group of people, it’s reasonable to expect that somebody could be hit and killed.”
Martin was in the front passenger seat during the shooting — which targeted the crowd on the driver’s side — and Spates and Rollins were in the backseat. Williamson said Martin reached across to fire out the driver’s window, and he said he heard gunfire from the backseat.
No witnesses at the scene were able to identify the shooters, and defense attorneys for the three said there is no credible evidence their clients were anything more than passengers in Williamson’s vehicle.
“Just sitting in a vehicle, the wrong vehicle, isn’t aiding and abetting,” said defense attorney Cory Goldensoph, who is representing Martin.
The defense said the only evidence to back the state’s claim any of the defendants fired a shot comes from Williamson, who told investigators a number of stories before arriving at the claim he was coerced.
“There is reality, and then there is Mr. Williamson’s version of events,” Goldensoph said. “His story is so unbelievable that you can simply discard it.”
Defense attorney Andrew Thalacker, representing Rollins, said Williamson — who ultimately pleaded to lesser charges as part of an agreement to testify for the state — made 40 false statements to police in the hours following the shooting, and he used surveillance camera footage from outside a store to counter Williamson’s account he was stopped at a stop sign for almost a minute while his passengers had threatened him, and that he attempted to turn before reaching the Logan address.
Attorney John Bishop, who is representing Spates, said Williamson came up with his account that he was essentially taken hostage by his passengers as a way to avoid his own murder charges.
“Mr. Williamson said he didn’t shoot. His total lack of credibility said he did shoot,” Bishop said.