Witness describes shooting
By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 25, 2005 1:47 PM
An eyewitness on Wednesday identified murder defendant Leandren Andre Wilson as the man who fatally shot another man last summer outside a Goldsboro nightclub.
Tory Thompson said in Wayne County Superior Court he thought the gunshots were directed at him because of a confrontation with Wilson two weeks earlier about a turf battle over the local drug trade. Thompson said he ducked behind a car to escape the gunshots.
Thompson told law-enforcement officers he was barred from the Paradise Club because he was a member of the southside Webbtown gang.
The shooting victim, Corey Lavon Grantham, 26, of Nor-Am Road, Pikeville, was killed early July 11, 2004, near Clingman Street and Corporate Drive, adjacent to the club. If convicted of first-degree murder, Wilson would be sentenced to life in prison and would not face the death penalty.
The identification of the shooter by the first eyewitness, Antoinette Saul, an aunt of the victim, was rejected Tuesday by the court because she had not identified the suspect to law enforcement on the day of the shooting.
Thompson testified he had two tickets to the show at the club, but was barred and then left. Later, he met Grantham in his red minivan outside of the club.
While Thompson and Grantham were sitting in the minivan, he said he saw Wilson walk by and the two exchanged words. Thompson said he got out and the two argued. Grantham then tried to intervene.
During the argument, Thompson said a small white car pulled up, and he testified that he heard someone in the back seat say: "Give a gun to Little Dre and bust him." He explained that "bust" was a euphemism for shoot.
When Wilson walked to the white car, got the gun and brandished it, Thompson said he ducked behind a car in the hotel parking lot across Clingman Street. Thompson said Wilson then shouted expletives at Grantham. During cross-examination, Thompson said the two men "were faced off," and he explained that they were close enough to touch each other. The witness said then Wilson opened fire. Thompson said Grantham threw up hands and fell backward on the grass between the street and the parking lot.
"You were the reason he got shot?" defense lawyer Louis Jordan asked Thompson. The witness denied the claim, and some jurors smiled at the question.
Thompson said he fled, jumping into a passing car with women and children, and got out at a nearby auto dealership.
A couple from Wilson, Curtis and Verna Boyd, testified they had come to the club to meet the performers and managers. As they went to the car, both said they heard gunshots and Boyd started to follow the small white getaway car. But his wife persuaded him not to stop. When they turned around, they saw the victim. Mrs. Boyd, a nurse, said she tried to resuscitate Grantham, who was bleeding from the face.
Ms. Saul returned to the stand in the morning. She said she held her nephew's hand as he was bleeding. Then Assistant District Attorney Jan Kroboth showed a photo of the victim on a projection screen to the jury.
A man in the audience yelled out, and Gloria Moore, the victim's mother and the first witness, cried loudly. Judge Jay D. Hockenbury Jr. of Wilmington excused the jury and cautioned the audience. He said the trial "can be highly charged, riveting and emotional" and added that he would not tolerate any more outbursts.
Hockenbury barred the man, believed to be a cousin of the victim, from the trial and ordered that the mother and others not be in the courtroom when graphic photos are shown.
Police officers who responded to the scene are expected to testify today.
Mrs. Kroboth had hoped that other eyewitnesses would come forward and testify, but she said some were too scared.
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