The Lateisha Green Trial: Tuesday Blog Post
Once again, this is legal intern, Laura Vogel, blogging from Syracuse regarding the Lateisha “Teish” Green murder trial. Today was the second day of the trial, which began with Mark Cannon, Teish’s brother, on the stand for the remainder of his cross-examination by the defense. Cassandra "Cassie" Williams testified regarding the bias of the shooter, stating that the shooter (whom she was not asked to identify) went into the house almost immediately after hearing a friend call Mark, Teish, and Star "faggots." Police officers, detectives, crime scene technicians, forensic scientists, paramedics, and doctors testified about the injuries sustained by Mark and Teish, and about the physical evidence, including the rifle and Mark's green t-shirt.
Brother and sister Johnny and Jasmine Gaston both testified about their involvement with the accused shooter, Dwight DeLee. Johnny contradicted his statement to the police, asserting that DeLee did not talk about accidently shooting into the car where Mark and Teish sat. Jasmine contradicted her statement to the police by saying that DeLee (her boyfriend of 3 years) did not call her while at work to say that he was sorry for what had happened, and that he hoped no one was seriously injured. Both of the Gaston siblings were more willing to answer the defense counsel's questions than the ADA's, and both said that they only signed their statements to the police because they were scared and wanted to go home.
All in all, it was a long day, with a lot of dramatic twists and turns. This is a lengthy blog; our goal is to provide you with as much as detail as we can, and to give you our sense of the "look and feel" of the courtroom and proceedings. The witnesses are listed below in the order of their appearances in court.
Witness for the Prosecution: Mark Anthony Cannon
Yesterday, Mark testified for the prosecution regarding the events of November 14, 2008, the night that he and Teish were shot, and then faced cross-examination by the defense. Today, Mark was the first witness to take the stand for the end of the defense’s cross-examination. He testified only briefly. The defense attorney implied that Mark had his back turned when he heard the shot, but Mark made it clear that he was turning back and forth between Alyssa, at the car window, and Teish, in the car’s front passenger seat. Defense counsel also asked Mark if he saw accused shooter DeLee aim at anyone in particular. At first, Mark said that he aimed at Teish, but after reading his statement to the police to refresh his memory, Mark stated that he just put the gun into the car and meant to shoot someone. Mark also stated that he did not know Dwight DeLee, but, when the prosecution had the opportunity to question Mark again, he clarified that, while he did not know DeLee personally, he had seen him in the neighborhood once or twice before.
Witness for the Prosecution: Cassandra Williams
The second witness called to the stand was Cassandra Williams. Cassandra, or Cassie, seemed to be very young, and was dressed nicely in a long shirt and black pants. At the time of the shooting, Cassie had run away from home and was staying with a friend in the neighborhood, near the scene of the crime. On November 14, 2008, Cassie was hanging out with friends where she was staying when she was introduced to two men: “Doughboy” and Nico. Shortly after meeting these men, at the time of night when “street lights were just coming on,” the group went to the scene of the crime, 411 Seymour Street, in Syracuse, New York.
Upon arriving at the Seymour Street house, Cassie noticed that there were three girls there, Alyssa, Erica (a/k/a "Chachi" (sp?)) and “Laylay” (sp?). Cassie also noticed a van with three people in it, who left in the van but then came back very soon thereafter and parked the car diagonally in the front yard. Cassie said that she saw some people drinking, but she was not. Also, she did not remember whether or not there was music playing. After being there for approximately two hours, Cassie saw a car with two or three people in it (Teish, Mark & Star, none of whom Cassie knew) pull up to the house while she was standing near a van with Doughboy, Nico, and someone she did not know. She then saw Alyssa and her son talking to the people in the car. Cassie went up to the car, but she didn’t know the people in it, so she went back towards the van on the front yard, and the people who were standing outside of that van.
Once Cassie came up to the van, she heard Doughboy, and perhaps also Nico, making comments about the people in the car, using the word “faggots.” Cassie stated that, of all the people standing in the group, only some were talking while others listened. Towards the end of the conversation, Cassie heard Doughboy say, “Go get the gun from my closet.” At this point, Cassie saw a black man in a hooded sweatshirt walk into the house; she was sure that the man was neither Doughboy nor Nico. That person was in the house for a short period of time before he came out of the house with a gun at his right side, which he did not have when entering the house. Cassie said that the gun was long with a large brown end, and was in the man’s right hand. Cassie stated that when the man came out of the house, he walked directly up to the car that was stopped in front of the house, put the gun up to the window, and shot the gun pointed towards the other side of the car.
After Cassie heard the shot, she saw the car drive away, and immediately heard Alyssa (who had been standing next to the window) screaming, “Why did you do that? So what if they’re gay!”
During the defense’s cross-examination, Cassie reviewed the statement she made to the police regarding the events of November 14, 2008, and recalled that she had said that she saw the gun after the shot was fired, that Nico was holding it until he gave it to Doughboy, who went upstairs to hide the gun. The defense attorney also asked Cassie about whether there were four people in the van, but Cassie was very clear in her assertion that there were only three people there, all men. When asked to clarify the number of people in the area of the crime scene, Cassie said that there were no people in the neighboring yards, nor were there any across the street. Cassie’s testimony concluded with her assertion that she knew who Doughboy and Nico were, and that neither was the man she saw leave the house with the gun and shoot into the car in front of the house.
Witness for the Prosecution: Officer Donor
Officer Donor has been a policeman for fifteen years, and is now a patrol officer for the third platoon. Officer Donor regularly patrols the neighborhood Lateisha's home and the crime scene at 411 Seymour Street. When Officer Donor got to the crime scene, he saw a number of police officers and firefighters cutting off Teish’s clothes. When he saw Teish, he recognized her as “Moses Cannon.” The officer said that he knew Teish from the neighborhood, and that she “dressed very flamboyantly and as a woman a lot of the time.” Soon after arriving at Teish’s home, Officer Donor was told to go to 411 Seymour Street, where Teish and Mark were shot. Once the officer got to the Seymour Street residence, he knocked on the front door. Alyssa Davis answered the door and told the officer that she did not hear any shots fired, nor did she hear any arguing. However, when the officer transported Alyssa to “CID” (Criminal Investigation Division) he asked Alyssa if she knew Teish because “she might be dying.” After hearing this news, Alyssa became very emotional; she started crying, and said that Teish was her “best friend.”
The officer then stated that he asked Alyssa if she knew why Teish was shot. The defense objected to this line of questioning by the ADA, but Judge Walsh overruled this objection, as he determined that Alyssa’s words fell under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule of evidence. Officer Donor stated that Alyssa said, “They shot him because he’s gay.” Later, on cross-examination, the defense attorney challenged this statement, asking the officer if “they” referred to more than one person. At this point, Judge Walsh interrupted the officer and stated that the officer was “just saying what she said — 'they' is a term of art.”
During cross-examination, Officer Donor described the location of the house on Seymour Street. While the defense attorney was clearly trying to prove that the front yard of the house was dark at the time of the shooting, the officer stated that the yard was lit moderately, as it was merely thirty to forty feet from an intersection where there is a convenience store with a very bright outdoor light. Also, while he agreed that there are no streetlights immediately in front of the house at 411 Seymour Street, there is a streetlight right next to the house.
Witness for the Prosecution: Unnamed Officer
This officer is an Emergency Medical Technician who responded to the Arthur Street emergency dispatch call. While his testimony was short, he stated that when he arrived at the scene, he discovered that the victim, Teish, was not breathing, had no pulse, and had sustained a gunshot wound. He conducted life-saving efforts upon Teish with the help of other officers, but was unable to recover her pulse.
Witness for the Prosecution: Officer D’Adeio
Officer D’Adeio went to the Arthur Street residence and then to the hospital to see Teish. His testimony was short, but he was the only officer present in the trauma room where Teish was being treated until the doctor pronounced Teish’s time of death, 9:20 pm on November 14, 2008. He then saw Mark Cannon in the pediatrics department of the hospital, where he was being treated for the wound on his shoulder from the bullet graze.
Witness for the Prosecution: Officer Taylor
Officer Taylor described the photographs he took of the inside of the vehicle in which Dwight DeLee left the scene and of Teish's wound, which were all admitted into evidence. The photo of the wound showed what appeared to be a relatively minor injury approximately three inches below Teish's left shoulder. Later medical evidence established how such a seemingly minor wound resulted in her death.
Witness for the Prosecution: Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Stoppacher
Dr. Stoppacher is the Chief Medical Examiner of Onondaga County. He testified regarding the autopsy that he conducted on Teish. He conducted an internal, external, and chemical examination of the body that led him to determine the cause of death to be a single gun shot wound to Teish’s left arm, three inches below her shoulder. Dr. Stoppacher described the path of the bullet as entering Teish’s left arm, then proceeding through her armpit, into her chest breaking her fourth left rib, into her left lung, through her aorta, and coming to rest in her right lung. This path caused extensive damage, and left 600 ccs of blood in her left chest cavity and 300 ccs of blood in her right chest cavity. In total, Dr. Stoppacher stated that Teish lost about one quart of blood, which amounts to one fifth of her total blood supply.
Witness for the Prosecution: Detective Linch
Detective Linch investigated the home at 411 Seymour Street. When he went to the second floor of the home, he knocked on the slightly ajar door and identified himself as a policeman. He saw an eight or nine-year-old girl, who stated that she was alone in the home. Detective Linch then noticed a man (later determined to be David Junios) lying face down, in a “prone position” on a couch. The detective asked the man to get off the couch; when he did not respond, the detective told another officer to escort him out of the house. Then, the detective continued to look through the apartment, as he believed there could be more people present who had also failed to make their presence known to him. Upon walking into the room further, he saw a man run into the back of the home and attempt to hide in a corner, with his back turned to the detective. The detective instructed the individual, later determined to be Nico Lemon, to leave the home with him, but Nico swore at the detective and was very physically resistant while being escorted out of the home. The only question asked of the detective on cross-examination was whether or not he smelled alcohol on the breath of either individual, which he did not.
Witness for the Prosecution: Detective Fraher
Detective Fraher used standard technology to compose a crime scene sketch of the home and surroundings of 411 Seymour Street. The Detective also testified that he took pictures of the residence at 411 Seymour Street, especially those of the yard and side of the home.
Witness for the Prosecution: Detective Galanaugh
Detective Galanaugh attempted to locate a probable witness, Johnny Gaston, on the evening of November 14, 2008 and during the day on November 15, 2008. While Detective Galanaugh was unsuccessful in locating the witness, Johnny Gaston turned himself in to the police on November 15, 2008, at approximately 4:00PM. Detective Galanaugh then interviewed Johnny for nine hours, resulting in Gaston's signed statement describing the events of the preceding night. Johnny also told the detective where to find the man that the detective had identified as the primary suspect, Dwight DeLee. Johnny then took the detective to his van at 34 Grandpan Road, in Liverpool, New York, just outside of Syracuse, where he had left it after transporting Dwight DeLee away from the crime scene.
Witness for the Prosecution: Johnny Gaston
Johnny “Man” Gaston is twenty-years-old. His baggy pants nearly fell down as he walked to the witness stand. Johnny said “mmhmm” or “not-uh” instead of answering questions with “yes” or “no,” and was constantly reminded by the judge to use words when answering questions so that the court reporter could record the proceedings properly.
Johnny said that on November 14, 2008, Alyssa and Erica had been calling him all day to come to the house on 411 Seymour Street. At approximately 7 pm, he took his sister, Jasmine Gaston, and her boyfriend, accused shooter Dwight DeLee, with him to the house at 411 Seymour Street in his Chevy Venture van. When he arrived, he saw Erica, Doughboy, “Lee Lee,” Alyssa, Nico, Pam (Erica’s mother), “her daughter, and some other girl” in the front yard. Johnny said that everybody had been drinking Hennessey, that music was playing, and that people were talking.
When Mark and Teish’s car arrived, Johnny was in the driveway helping Pam play music from her van. Johnny said that while he was working on the van with Pam, he heard a pop and saw Mark and Teish’s car drive away. He first told the ADA that once the car drove away, he saw only Alyssa and Erica standing near the street. The ADA asked Johnny if consulting the statement he made to the police would help him refresh his memory that he had seen someone else standing by the car — he said no, but the ADA had him read that section of his statement anyway. Once he read the statement, he said that Dwight DeLee was standing in the yard on the grass near the sidewalk when the car left. He said that he thought the “pop” sound had come from Dwight punching someone. Then, Johnny said that he took the people he came to the house with and left, because everyone at the house was “drunk and panicking.”
The ADA asked Johnny if Dwight DeLee said anything to him in the van; at first, Johnny said no, but the ADA then read Johnny’s statement to the police, where he said that Dwight told Johnny in the van that he had put the gun in the car, that someone in the car had pulled on the gun, and that it then went off.
Then, Johnny was cross-examined by the defense attorney. Johnny was much more cooperative than when he was being questioned by the ADA. Johnny said that when he was being questioned, the police officers were telling him stories about what had happened at the shooting, and that he was just saying yes because he was scared. Johnny stated that the police told him that he’d go to jail if he didn’t talk, so finally, Johnny just agreed with what they said and signed the statement that was typed for him and read to him. Johnny admitted that he was never handcuffed, that the officers gave him food, and that they allowed him to use the bathroom. However, Johnny still asserted that the statement he signed was inaccurate, because he only signed it so that he could go home.
Witness for the Prosecution: Jasmine Gaston
Jasmine “Nicole” Gaston, Dwight DeLee’s girlfriendstated that she went to 411 Seymour Street with Johnny and her boyfriend, Dwight DeLee, on the night of November 14, 2008. Jasmine said that when Mark and Teish’s car pulled up to the house, she heard Nico say, “There’s some faggots in front of my house!” Then, she saw someone leave the house with a gun, walk up to the car, and heard a pop.
At first, Jasmine stated that she never saw Dwight DeLee, her boyfriend, with the gun. However, the ADA referred to Jasmine’s statement to the police, which she gave less than two days after the murder. In that signed statement, Jasmine said, “I saw Dwight had the gun in his hands. … Dwight walked up to the driver side door of the car and he fired once at the car.”
After the shooting, Jasmine, Johnny, and Dwight DeLee left the house at 411 Seymour Street in Johnny’s van, which he drove to a cousin’s house in Liverpool, New York, just outside of Syracuse. Jasmine stayed at the house that night while Dwight DeLee went to work at General Super Plating. The ADA asked Jasmine if Dwight called her during his shift at work; Jasmine said that he did not. The ADA then read Jasmine her statement to the police, where she said, “Dwight kept calling me on his breaks at work and kept telling me how bad he felt about what had happened.... He hoped no one got hurt because he didn’t want it to get serious like that.” After DeLee’s shift ended, he returned to the house in Liverpool, where he stayed with Jasmine until they were awakened by the police at approximately 1:00am Sunday morning, November 16, 2008.
During the defense’s cross-examination, Jasmine asserted that she only signed the statement because she was scared. While she admitted to finishing high school, she said that she did not feel comfortable reading the statement that was prepared for her before she signed it. She said that she was scared and just wanted to go home, so she signed the statement, though it was untrue.
Witness for the Prosecution: Police Officer and Evidence Technician John Serrayo
Officer Serrayo was involved in the interior search of the house at 411 Seymour Street where, in the bedroom on the second floor, he found the rifle that was allegedly used to shoot and kill Teish on November 14, 2008. The gun was located between the mattress and box spring of the bed, as evidenced by photographs that the ADA put into evidence. Upon finding the weapon, the officer discovered that there were no cartridges (or bullets) in the gun, nor did he see an expended cartridge from a previously fired bullet. He rendered the gun safe, put it into an evidence box, and transported it to the Center for Forensic Science.
Witness for the Prosecution: Mark Mills
Mark Mills works at the Onondaga County Center for Forensic Sciences in the Crime Lab, where he is a Senior Finger Print examiner. At the Crime Lab, Mills examined the rifle recovered by Officer Serrayo for latent fingerprints, or those not obvious to the naked eye. Mills was unable to recover any prints from the weapon; he stated that a lack of fingerprints can result from many conditions, including conditions on the surface of an item, such as the rust on the barrel of the rifle, or the varnish on the butt of the rifle. Wiping down the gun could also have resulted in the loss of fingerprint evidence.
Witness for the Prosecution: Michael Dujanovich
Michael Dujanovich works for the Onondaga County Center for Forensic Sciences as a Senior Firearms Forensic Examiner. He testified that the rifle was discharged and fully tested with the ammunition most commonly used in this kind of weapon. He described that the shape of the inside of a rifle barrel is grooved to create a spiral, either to the left or to the right. In this case, the rifle submitted as evidence has a barrel with a spiral to the right. The bullet that killed Teish Green also had "right rifling" markings on it. While this shows that the bullet definitely could have been shot from the rifle in question, the rifle is so old (1930s) that the rifling inside the barrel is very worn, and creates insufficient rifling on any bullet shot from the rifle to conclusively link a bullet to that rifle. Therefore, Dujanovich was unable to conclusively link the bullet that killed Teish to the rifle found in the residence at 411 Seymour Street. However, he did state that it was definitely possible for the bullet to have come from that weapon.
Witness for the Prosecution: Detective Terrence James McGinn
Terrence James McGinn is a detective with the Major Incident Crime Scene Unit. As such, he processes scenes for physical evidence to submit to crime labs for further analysis. In this case, Detective McGinn analyzed the residue left on Mark Cannon’s green shirt, which had previously been admitted to evidence. The detective stated that he touched a carbon tape to the shirt around the hole made by the bullet. He then put the tape into a scanning electric microscope, which revealed that there was firearms discharge residue on the shirt. This residue consisted of particles that have a spherical quality, as well as other characteristics that are consistent with those commonly present when a weapon has been discharged. Judge Walsh ruled that this witness was not permitted to discuss the additional experiment that he conducted to determine the distance at which the shot was fired from Mark Cannon’s shirt.
At 5 pm, Judge Walsh adjourned the trial. We'll begin again tomorrow at 9:30. There is a chance that the prosecution will rest its case tomorrow. We do not expect that the defense will have many witnesses.
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