WATERLOO – Testimony resumed Monday in Black Hawk County’s first jury trial of the coronavirus pandemic after being postponed for two days because an apparent COVID-19 infection.
The trial of Jake Demont Williams, who is accused of firing a single shot following an argument in April, came to a halt Thursday morning after court officials received a phone call that a potential witness had COVID symptoms.
Judge Brad Harris said the witness — who wasn’t identified — wasn’t in the courthouse and wasn’t in contact with other witnesses. Trial was called off for the remainder of Thursday and Friday while officials made arrangements for another witness who could testify in place of the ailing witness on Monday.
The reason for the Thursday and Friday delays wasn’t disclosed until Monday morning.
Testimony started last week, and witnesses have been testifying while wearing transparent face shields, which are also required equipment for the jurors, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court attendants and the judge. Williams has been wearing a cloth face mask during the proceedings.
The jury of 12 plus an alternate has been spread across the courtroom for social distancing. Some have been seated in the jury box and others in the front rows of the gallery.
Assistant County Attorney Brad Walz said Williams, 31, fired a shot at Kevonte Reed, his girlfriend’s brother, in the stairs of a Miriam Drive apartment building on April 15. The bullet missed and entered a utility closet where it struck an electrical meter.
Witnesses said there had been drinking that night, and moments before the shot, Williams and Reed had been arguing.
“What happens when you have alcohol, have a gun, have an argument,” Walz said during closings Monday.
Police said they seized a 9mm handgun and a box of .45-caliber ammo in a vehicle Williams had been driving. They also found a .45-caliber handgun in a couch at his apartment on Randolph Street.
Defense attorney Matthew Hoffey said much of the witness testimony wasn’t corroborated by forensic evidence. He noted there was no fingerprint, video or DNA evidence, no shell casings were recovered, and prosecutors didn’t put everyone who was there on the stand.
“Demand more. Dig into the details,” Hoffey said.
Deliberations in the case will resume on Tuesday.
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