Murder trial moves into second week
By Ethan Smith
Published in News on April 18, 2017 7:37 AM
A hearing on whether certain video clips would be allowed as evidence in the first-degree murder trial of Alquan Hill consumed most of the day Monday.
As the trial entered its fifth day, the prosecution and defense made arguments about whether surveillance videos pulled from gas stations and a restaurant should be allowed to be shown to the jury.
The videos are from the night of Shanekqua Adriana Thompson's murder, a 21-year-old mother of three.
Hill is accused of being one of eight men to take part in her killing.
Court closed on Thursday afternoon for a three-day break with the hearing being held open until Monday.
The trial got back underway Monday at 2 p.m., although the jury was not called into the courtroom to hear testimony and evidence until slightly after 4:30 p.m.
Superior Court Judge Jay Hockenbury ordered the videos be allowed into evidence in the trial to help illustrate the testimony of Cequon Aredale Phillips -- another one of the eight men who together reportedly shot almost 50 rounds into the van Thompson was in the night of her death.
Eight men in two cars allegedly fired dozens of shots into a brown Chrysler van Thompson was in with three other men as it drove down Sixth Street and tried to turn left onto Humphrey Street.
It crashed into a tree line, and video evidence in the trial showed the men continuing to shoot into the van after it crashed.
Hockenbury ruled against the surveillance videos being allowed as substantiative evidence -- or evidence that can be considered on its own, rather than to simply support a testimony.
Phillips, 25, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder on Jan. 5, 2017, and will face between 58 to 82 months in prison at sentencing.
After Hockenbury delivered his ruling on the videos, Phillips was called back onto the stand to continue his testimony from Thursday in front of the jury.
There are three clips of surveillance footage prosecutor Davis Weddle, an assistant district attorney, plans to show.
One is from a Handy Mart on U.S. 70 East, the other is from McDonald's at 2002 Wayne Memorial Drive and the third is from a gas station across the street from the restaurant. All the clips were pulled in early November 2014 from the night of the murder in October.
Weddle only had enough time to show footage from the Handy Mart and McDonald's before court adjourned for the day.
Phillips testified to which of the eight men were in which car, and what the clips themselves showed.
The Handy Mart clip shows a Honda Accord and Ford Expedition leaving the gas station.
The McDonald's clip shows the van Thompson was in the night she was killed backing out of the restaurant parking lot and pulling away.
Phillips testified the men then followed the van, and Hill was the one to identify it as the one the men were looking for that night.
"Alquan told Anthony Graham to pull out behind the van when they came out," Phillips said. "He called him on the phone (and said), 'That's the van, pull out behind them when they leave.'"
His testimony placed Hill driving the green Honda Accord, a man known only as "First 48" in the front passenger seat, Phillips' brother, Rahmel, in the back passenger side seat and himself behind Hill.
He also said Joshua Collins -- who has also taken a plea deal and is expected to testify -- was driving the Ford Expedition, Davine Carr was in the front passenger seat, a man known only as "Spazz" was sitting behind Collins and Anthony Graham was in the back passenger side seat.
Phillips has repeatedly identified the men by their nicknames during his testimony, which is expected to continue today as the trial enters its sixth day.
Phillips testified Hill's nickname is "Trigger," Rahmel's nickname is "Loyalty," Carr is known as "Doo-Doo," Graham is known as "Ant," Collins' nickname is "Joc," Cequon himself is called "Magic," and the other two unknown men are "First 48" and "Spazz."
Hill is facing charges of first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and discharging a firearm into occupied property in conveyance and operation.
If convicted, he will not face the death penalty.
He is being represented by defense attorney Tyrell Clemons.