By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 27, 2012 1:46 PM
Ismail Kandeel testifies about the events that led to the death of his brother, Ribhi.
Ismail Kandeel still doesn't understand.
"What happened to us?" he said from a witness stand inside the Wayne County Courthouse Thursday afternoon. "What happened to us?"
It has been nearly two years since his brother, Ribhi, succumbed to injuries sustained in a 2008 shooting.
But his emotions were still raw when he testified in the trial he hopes will provide justice for his fallen "partner."
Defense attorneys fought to keep Ismail from detailing his brother's recollection of just what happened that night -- how he turned to get a T-shirt for a group of men and was shot in the back; how he "played dead" and saw the face of one of the perpetrators.
But after more than a hour of arguments from both sides, Special Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins allowed the testimony.
"Did your brother ... ever talk to you about the night of the robbery?" Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks asked.
"Yes," Ismail responded.
He testified that during the eight months he spent by his brother's side at Pitt Memorial Hospital, and the more than a year the two occupied various facilities in New York, Ribhi spoke often of the incident that would ultimately cost him his life.
The story, Ismail said, never changed.
"One of them shot him and he fall to the ground. He told me he feel heavy," Ismail said. "He fall down and played like he's dead. He said, 'The one who shot me, he came and kicked me in the face.' He came to kick him to make sure he was dead."
Ricks asked him to hold his thought.
"Did your brother give any description of the way the men looked when they came into the store?" he then asked.
"He said, 'The guy who kicked me, his mask fall down and I could pick him from a million guys,'" Ismail replied.
"Did your brother tell you who was the person who kicked him in the face? What was the name of the person?" Ricks asked.
"His name is Shadow," Ismail said.
Nearly every state's witness that has, to date, identified Rashard Oliver in the courtroom, has referred to him as "Shadow."
But Oliver was not the only defendant implicated by a witness Thursday.
Another man, Dennis Herring, placed Quentin Kenon at the scene.
Herring testified that he was standing outside the Brookside Convenient Mart just before the incident -- that "Q" approached him and told him to leave.
"He told me to get away from the store -- that he was fixin' to rob it," Herring told the court.
The following is a recap of the third day of testimony:
* Prosecution, Witness No. 8 -- Steve Harmon: An investigator with the Goldsboro Police Department, Harmon testified that he became involved with the case when he was asked to show photo lineups to the victim at Pitt Memorial Hospital. He showed five lineups and 30 total photos. After that, he turned the results over to Dwayne Dean, the Goldsboro police investigator in charge of the investigation. Outside of the presence of the jury, he testified that Kandeel picked Rashard Oliver out of the lineup.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 9 -- Timothy Brinson: Brinson, the general manager of a local hotel, testified that a woman checked into the establishment Aug. 19, 2008, at 8:34 a.m. -- that she paid $89.39 for the one-night stay in cash. During cross-examination, defense attorneys asked Brinson to confirm that no matter what time someone showed up at the hotel, that they would be rented a room.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 10 -- Thomas Robinson: Robinson, a resident of one of the housing projects located near the Brookside Convenient Mart, told the court that he entered the store shortly after Kandeel was shot -- that he found him lying on the ground behind the counter. "I happened to look over the counter, and I saw (Kandeel) laying down, bleeding," he said. "So I jumped behind the counter and slapped him in the face to wake him up. I asked him what happened and he said, 'They shot me.' I said, 'Who?' He (didn't) tell me who shot him. He just said he knew who it was." Robinson then testified that he put his jacket behind Kandeel's head, called 911 and then the victim's son, Mahmud. He said he stayed with the man until the police arrived and then traveled, with his wife, to the hospital. "As soon as the police came, I left," he said. He also said that Dennis Herring was standing outside the store when he arrived and that many people gathered outside the business after police arrived. "People was just lookin', watchin' and cryin'," he said. During cross-examination, defense attorneys asked Herring questions about the statement he gave to police in August 2008 -- if he said Kandeel's lungs were filling up with blood; if Herring was standing outside the store when he arrived; if he or his cousin was the first to enter the store and see Kandeel bleeding on the floor.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 11 -- Ismail Kandeel: Kandeel, the brother of the victim, provided an emotional account of what his loved one went through for the nearly two years it took his body to succumb to injuries sustained in the shooting.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 12 -- Dennis Herring: After responding to the first few questions posed by Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks, Herring made a statement that prompted the prosecutor to ask that he step down from the stand and that the jury be removed from the courtroom.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 13 -- Dwayne Dean: Dean, an investigator with the Goldsboro Police Department, testified about his interaction with Herring earlier in the day. He told the court that when he went to pick up the witness from his home Thursday, he attempted to walk away. When Dean confronted him, he alleged that shortly after he left the courthouse Wednesday, a vehicle pulled alongside him on Kornegay Street and the people inside the vehicle urged him not to testify. Ricks also asked Dean to confirm that around lunchtime, he was present when Ricks and Herring went over the statement the witness gave to Goldsboro police in August 2008 -- that he affirmed that what he said nearly four years ago was the truth. Dean was then questioned by defense attorney Mary Darrow, who asked if Herring had refused to testify. "No," Dean replied.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 14 -- Dennis Herring: After being reminded by Special Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins that he was under oath, Herring gave his account of what he witnessed Aug. 18, 2008. He testified that he was standing outside the Brookside Convenient Mart the evening of the shooting until one of the defendants, Quentin Kenon, told him to leave. "He told me to get away from the store -- that he was fixin' to rob it," he said. During cross-examination, defense attorneys established that Herring had been smoking marijuana that day -- that it took him nine days to make a statement to police. Attorney Mary Darrow asked him to confirm that when he returned to the store and learned that Kandeel had been shot, that he did not wait for law enforcement to arrive before he left the scene. "That's right," he said. "I left." Darrow responded. "You were scared?" she asked. "I'm scared right now," Herring responded.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 15 -- Kristin Hughes: Hughes, a special agent and forensic DNA analyst for the State Bureau of Investigation, talked about her involvement in the case. After being deemed an "expert" by the court, she testified that she analyzed evidence -- three "spent" shell casings -- to determine whether any DNA could be extracted from them. Ultimately, she said, no DNA was present on any of the objects.
* Prosecution, Witness No. 16 -- Neal Morin: Morin, a special agent and forensic firearms identification specialist for the State Bureau of Investigation, testified that he had handled some of the state's evidence. After being deemed an "expert" by the court, he talked about the three fired bullets and three shell cases he analyzed -- and stated that he determined two of the bullets and all three shell casings were used in the same gun. When asked by Ricks about the third bullet -- the one extracted from Kandeel's body during the autopsy performed on it -- Morin said it was reasonable to assume that the "identifiers" on the bullet corroded as a result of being inside a human body for two years.