CHARLES CITY -- Antoine Williams and Nathaniel Fleming were like brothers, but a fight between the two led to a fatal shooting, a defense attorney said during opening statements Wednesday.
Williams, 36, a Chicago native, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Nathaniel Fleming, 36, last known address Mason City, on June 30.
Police say Williams shot Fleming multiple times during an argument around 10 p.m. near the Casa Apartments on Clarkview Drive and then fled the scene.
Steven Kloberdanz, Williams’ court-appointed defense attorney, described a series of events to a Floyd County jury, claiming Fleming was angry at Williams that day.
Fleming was intoxicated, Kloberdanz said, and believed Williams was “in cahoots” with some people who had assaulted him.
Fleming then left the apartment complex, allegedly telling Williams he “better not be here when I come back,” Kloberdanz said.
Kloberdanz claimed Fleming had a “Napoleonic or Chihuahua complex” because he was small in stature.
“He often bragged about having guns,” Kloberdanz said. ”Makes up for his small size by talking tough.”
Upon returning, Fleming pulled his car up near the complex’s dumpsters and backed in. Kloberdanz said Williams went out to talk to Fleming, who was still upset.
“The more he tried to talk him down, the angrier he got,” Kloberdanz said.
Kloberdanz claimed Fleming reached for a gun and then Williams — acting in self-defense — shot him.
“To Antoine Williams, it was either shoot or be shot,” Kloberdanz said.
Prior to the argument, Kloberdanz said the two had a close relationship.
“Antoine Williams is the kind of man who treated Mr. Fleming so well that many people thought they were brothers,” Kloberdanz said.
Later in the testimony, bodycam footage from Charles City Police Officer Leonard Luft showed a man talking with police saying the shooter was “supposed to be his brother.”
That statement was repeated in a 911 call played for jurors, in which at least three people reported the shooting.
The first caller, a man who doesn’t identify himself, tells dispatcher Heather Johlas “somebody’s been shot and carjacked.” The call was reported at 9:46 p.m.
Johlas then asks the man how he knows someone has been shot and carjacked.
“’Cause I heard the gunshots, and he’s laying right here by the garbage dumpster, and they took off in his truck, I seen it,” the caller says.
“Did you see who took the truck?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes, I did, it’s supposed to be his brother,” the caller replies, but doesn’t supply the name of who supposedly took the vehicle.
He then asks the dispatcher to “hurry up, (because) the man might die” and says the person — who he says he doesn’t know — has been shot three times.
The third caller, a woman who doesn’t identify herself, tells Johlas she heard gunshots. Judge Rustin Davenport asked the jury to disregard the female caller, as she couldn't be identified.
Luft, who was the first officer to respond to the scene, testified he had driven his patrol vehicle by the complex one to two hours before the shooting.
While near the complex, Luft said he saw Williams outside with two other people — Josh Baker and Ed Brown.
The description witnesses gave of the shooter matched Williams and Brown as they are of similar height, build and racial description.
O’Mara asked Luft if he had interacted with Williams before and what his impression of Williams was.
Luft said he was familiar with Williams, as he had been a victim of criminal mischief when someone kicked in the door to his apartment in May. He said he had never encountered Fleming.
“He was laid back,” Luft said of Williams.
Once on the scene, Luft and fellow officer Duane Ollendick performed CPR on Fleming until the ambulance arrived, but Fleming was unresponsive.
Fleming appeared to have wounds to his chest and neck, Ollendick said.
Luft asked witnesses who the shooter was, and where the shooter went. His bodycam footage — which was shared in court — showed several witnesses, some shouting, others agitated or excited.
Witnesses at the scene told officers a person shot into the vehicle, a dark red Chevy Equinox SUV, and pulled Fleming out of the vehicle after he was shot. The person then climbed into the vehicle and drove off.
Police then looked around the complex’s parking lot for the vehicle.
Williams later turned himself in to police in Chicago, Floyd County Attorney Rachel Ginbey said, as she gave the series of events that led police to discover Williams likely drove to Illinois.
Officer Jason Flores was with Luft on patrol that night, as he was in training. He was not uniformed or armed.
“It was my first time witnessing something like that,” Flores said.
On Tuesday, six men and eight women were selected as jurors.
Williams’ other court-appointed attorney, Nellie O’Mara, previously argued that because of media coverage, Williams would not be able to get a fair trial in Floyd County. She asked that the trial be moved.
Davenport denied the motion last month.
Testimony will resume Thursday in Charles City.