Testimony continues in murder trial
By Ethan Smith
Published in News on April 19, 2017 9:57 AM
Testimony given Tuesday in the ongoing first-degree murder trial of Alquan Hill by two men who were there the night 21-year-old Shanekqua Adriana Thompson was gunned down revealed Hill bragged about the shooting.
Thompson died after eight men -- identified through testimony as Hill, Cequon Phillips, Rahmel Phillips, Davine Carr, Anthony Graham, Joshua Collins and two men known only as "Spazz" and "First 48" -- allegedly chased down a van she was in and opened fired into it nearly 50 times.
Cequon Phillips and Collins testified to the jury Tuesday about things Hill said and did after the shooting.
Outside of what was already known -- how the men came together that night, the details about what led up to the shooting and the shooting itself -- the two men testified the eight men stopped at a gas station following the shooting.
Phillips testified Hill got out of the car, and while talking to several of the others, said, "We lit that (expletive) up."
Collins testified that during that same conversation, Hill said, "That's how you get that smoke."
Phillips said Hill and Carr came to his house in Kinston the next day and were bragging about the shooting.
But Phillips said he had woken up and seen the news, and knew Thompson had been killed.
He said he asked the two men, "Y'all know a female been killed?"
And Phillips testified that Hill responded, "So? Wrong place, wrong time."
Both Cequon Phillips and Collins have taken plea deals in exchange for their testimony.
Cequon Phillips, 25, pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2017, to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, and faces 58 to 82 months in prison at sentencing.
Collins, 26, pleaded guilty on March 8, 2016, to second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and discharging a firearm into occupied property in conveyance and operation resulting in serious bodily injury.
He faces 221 to 278 months at sentencing.
As prosecutor Davis Weddle finished direct examination of Phillips early in the day, Hill's defense attorney, Tyrell Clemons, honed in on his motive for taking a plea deal during cross examination.
Clemons questioned why his testimony was different than the original statement he gave to police following the shooting.
Testimony showed there were several things that were different in Phillips' testimony, given under a legally-binding oath, from his original statement to law enforcement.
Clemons' line of questioning appeared to drive at an implication that Phillips took a plea deal for lesser charges so he could serve a shorter sentence and eventually be released from prison to see his son again, instead of serving life in prison if convicted on the original charge of first-degree murder.
Phillips testified this was not so, and he took a plea deal he felt brought more accurate charges with him.
"I didn't want to be considered a snitch," Phillips said. "I'm not one now, either."
At one point during his cross-examination, Clemons went so far as to ask whether or not Phillips had made the two men known only as "First 48" and "Spazz" disappear.
After about 30 minutes of cross-examination, Phillips was allowed to come down from the stand.
Collins' testimony, which came later in the afternoon, solidified that the men came to Goldsboro that night looking for men who had shot at them a short time before the killing on Oct. 31, 2014.
Collins drove the Ford Expedition that had three other men in it, and Hill drove a green Honda Accord that also pursued a brown Chrysler van Thompson and three others were in, testimony showed.
Collins' testimony shed light on which man fired which gun out of the Expedition, revealing that an AK-47 was used in the shooting.
That rifle uses 7.62x39 caliber bullets, which were recovered from the crime scene at Sixth Street and Humphrey Street, as well as the Ford Expedition Collins said he drove.
Collins testified that Carr was the one shooting an AK-47.
Testimony showed 9 millimeter, .45 caliber and .380 caliber shell casings were also recovered from the crime scene, and .40 caliber shell casings were recovered from inside the van.
A witness called by the prosecution also revealed the caliber of bullets retrieved from Thompson's body.
Eugene Bishop, a forensic firearms examiner at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, testified Tuesday that out of three bullets retrieved from Thompson's body, two were 9 millimeter bullets and one was a .45 caliber bullet.
The projectiles were handed to him by Cpl. Steven Powers of the Goldsboro Police Department after the killing so he could examine them.
Phillips -- who was in the car Hill was driving the night of the killing -- testified several times that Hill was shooting a .45 caliber handgun at the van Thompson was found dead in.
But Bishop testified that while a .45 caliber bullet was found in Thompson's body, he could not definitively identify the gun it was fired from.
A .45 caliber shell casing was also recovered from the floorboard of the van, and Bishop testified that bullet and the bullet recovered from Thompson's body were fired from the same gun.
Collins did not have enough time to finish his testimony or undergo cross-examination before the end of the day.
Court will resume today at 9:30 a.m.
In addition to first-degree murder, Hill is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and discharging a firearm into occupied property in conveyance and operation resulting in serious bodily injury.