Murder case to go to jury today
By Ethan Smith
Published in News on April 21, 2017 6:37 AM
Jury deliberation in the murder trial of Alquan De-shawn Hill begins today after both sides presented closing arguments Thursday afternoon.
The trial has gone on since April 10.
Hill is accused of taking part in the killing of a 21-year-old mother of three, Shanekqua Adriana Thompson, on Oct. 31, 2014.
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 shot into it nearly 50 times.
During Assistant District Attorney Davis Weddle's closing arguments, he left the jury surrounded by the same thing Thomspon was after her death -- nearly 50 shell casings.
He slapped each one down on the railing surrounding the jury box, the casings taking up the entire rail once he was finished putting them there one at a time.
This display of evidence came in the final part of his arguments, where he pressed the jury to convict Hill on all the charges against him.
"Tell (Hill), 'You are not going to act, you are not going to behave and act, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, like this is the wild west. You are not going to chase people down on Wayne Memorial Drive, on Sixth Street, on Humphrey Street,'" Weddle argued to the jury.
Weddle consistently drew parallels between the shooting that killed Thompson and the act of hunting.
He said hunters stake out their prey, and Hill's Honda Accord and a Ford Expedition driven by Collins lied in wait for the van Thompson was in to drive down Wayne Memorial Drive, followed it and opened fire.
"He who hunts with the pack is responsible for the kill," Weddle told the jury.
He also focused on another detail Hill testified to -- that Rahmel Phillips urinated in a cup in the McDonald's parking lot instead of going in to use the bathroom.
Hill testified it was because Phillips was lazy.
Weddle argued it's because the "hunters" had their "prey" in sight, and didn't want to miss a moment of the "hunt."
Hill's defense attorney, Tyrell Clemons, argued that Hill did not "sign up" for the events that unfolded that night.
He instead maintained that his client went to Goldsboro with the others to fight people who had jumped Graham at a nightclub earlier on.
Weddle pointed to the shell casings, video and photographic evidence and witness testimony, saying they proved Hill had signed up for the shooting.
Clemons used his closing arguments to cast doubt on testimony given by Collins and Cequon Phillips, who were there the night of the murder and have taken plea deals for their part in the shooting death of Thompson.
He said the two men didn't have their details straight in their testimony. He argued that Phillips fired the gun out of Hill's car, not Hill, because Phillips was able to testify as to what caliber gun was used in Hill's car.
He also argued that the two men testified that Hill said different things after the murder, with each testifying that he bragged by saying different things.
Clemons spent the majority of his time during closing arguments riffing off of Phillips' nickname -- "Magic."
He honed in on how Phillips' original statement to law enforcement was different from his testimony given in court for this trial.
The implication was that Phillips "magically" changed his story and knew more details during his testimony to make his own charges "disappear" and get a plea deal for lesser charges and a shorter prison sentence.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm asking you today not to fall for the magic trick," Clemons told the jury. "One thing magicians do, they have you focusing on one thing and then they're doing something else -- misdirection. They can make rabbits disappear. They can make cars disappear. They can make life sentences disappear. They can make the fact they were shooting in the back of a car just disappear -- magic."
Clemons rounded out his closing arguments by telling the jury he understands a tragic thing happened and Thompson lost her life. But he maintained that his client cannot and should not be held responsible for it.
Court will resume today at 9:30 a.m., and Superior Court Judge Jay Hockenbury will read the jury their charge on what they can convict or acquit Hill of before sending them off into deliberation.