04/25/12 — Murder witness grilled

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Murder witness grilled

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 25, 2012 1:46 PM

Three stacks of cash and a pistol.

That is what she said she heard they stole from Ribhi Mohammed Kandeel after they allegedly shot him in the back.

Red bandanas, blue jeans and T-shirts.

That is what she testified they were wearing before she witnessed them jump a fence that separates a Slocumb Street convenience store from the Courtyard housing projects.

But lawyers defending the three men on trial for first-degree murder were not convinced that Marquetta Quinn was being truthful when she told Goldsboro police officers that she saw their clients fleeing the scene of the deadly shooting August 18, 2008 -- that she was "100 percent" certain she saw them head toward, and later away from, the Brookside Convenient Mart shortly before and after the crime was committed.

So when they cross-examined her Tuesday, they attempted to establish doubt among the 12 jurors who will decide whether Joshua Davis, Quentin Kenon and Rashard Oliver spend the rest of their lives in prison for Kandeel's death.

They questioned Ms. Quinn's motive for coming forward. And they pointed out inconsistencies in her recollection of just what happened that evening. They suggested that she had something to gain by providing police with a statement when she finally did.

The state of North Carolina called its first two witnesses Tuesday and Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks and defense counsel Mary Darrow offered opening statements.

Ricks said by the end of the trial it would be clear that the three defendants committed premeditated murder.

The following is a recap of the first day of testimony:

* Prosecution, Witness No. 1 -- Marquetta Quinn: Quinn, a former resident of the Courtyard housing projects, was called to the stand as an eye witness of sorts. She told Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks that she was sitting on her steps when the three defendants approached her and asked her for a lighter. Within a few minutes, she said, they were jumping a fence that leads to the Brookside Convenient Mart. Two of them, at that time, were wearing red bandanas around their necks. Moments later, she said she heard "at least three" gunshots and saw the three men running away from the store and into a nearby field. But defense counsel questioned why it took her 10 days to provide law enforcement with her account. And attorney Mary Darrow asked her about a "large" oak tree and a lack of lighting in the area that might have impaired her ability to see exactly what happened.

* Prosecution, Witness No. 2 -- Steve Lusk: Lusk, a retired Goldsboro police sergeant, was the first officer to respond. He said he arrived to a "chaotic" scene -- that a crowd had gathered outside the store after shots were fired. He testified that shortly after he arrived, other officers showed up and secured the crime scene while he went inside to attend to Kandeel. When Defense attorney Randall Hughes asked Lusk if crime scene investigators did a forensic analysis inside the store, the retired officer said he could not be sure -- that because it had been nearly four years since the incident, he could not say for certain who handled that part of the investigation. But he did recall signs of a struggle. And Kandeel was surrounded by a "pool of blood," he said.