The Lateisha Green Trial: Wednesday Blog Post
This is legal intern Laura Vogel reporting on the third day of the Lateisha Green murder trial. Testimony intensified significantly today. We heard from the detective who interviewed Dwight DeLee while he was in police custody, as well as several key eye witnesses to the events of November 14, 2008 which resulted in Lateisha “Teish” Green’s death. This testimony has clarified the order of the evening’s events, the atmosphere of the scene of the crime before and after those events, as well as the statements made preceding the shooting. There was a lot of testimony regarding anti-lgbt slurs used immediately prior to the shooting. As you read this report of the day’s testimony, please keep in mind that anti-gay remarks were spoken in court, that much of the testimony was highly charged and emtional, and that you may find the events described upsetting.
The Court Reconvenes
When court reconvened today, Judge Walsh addressed the gallery, on the record, before the jury was brought into the courtroom. Judge Walsh stated that when he left the court yesterday evening, he saw news vans and reporters outside of the Onondaga County Courthouse. The reporters asked the judge if he was aware of the events that went on at approximately 5:15 pm outside of the Onondaga County Court. Judge Walsh was not aware of what went on, so he went into a news van with a reporter to review the station’s footage of an altercation. Judge Walsh stated that he saw the altercation, or “melee,” on film and found it “appalling.” He said that the altercation, which resulted from threats made by friends and members of accused shooter DeLee's family, “disgraced the life and legacy of" the victim and that the case would not be decided on the streets of Syracuse, but in the courtroom. He warned the individuals in the gallery to behave properly and respectfully, and expressed absolutely no tolerance for improper behavior.
Witness for the Prosecution: Detective Hack
The first individual to testify was Detective Hack, who described his role in the interview of Dwight DeLee, after the police arrested DeLee on the evening of November 16, 2008. Detective Hack described in detail that DeLee clearly read his constitutional rights aloud, initialed next to the description of each specific right, and signed the bottom of the document indicating that he was waving his constitutional rights. Hack insisted that DeLee understood his rights, as he wrote his initials next to each one and signed the bottom of the document. The defense attorney attempted to show that DeLee did not, in fact, understand his rights. Defense counsel asked the detective if he had requested DeLee to summarize his rights in his own words, which the detective did not; however, the detective did state that DeLee appeared to understand his rights and did not ask for any clarification of them.
During Detective Hack and Detective Kilburn’s interview with Dwight DeLee, both detectives repeatedly asked DeLee if he would like something to eat or drink, or if he needed to use the bathroom. They also left DeLee alone for a combined time of approximately four hours; during this time, the officers saw that DeLee was sleeping. The interview went on from approximately 3:00 am to 8:45 am, during which time DeLee only requested to use the bathroom once, at about 5:45 am. Defense counsel asked the detective if, after DeLee used the bathroom, he was reappraised of his rights. The detective stated that he was not, but later clarified that this was because DeLee had already read and signed the document stating that he understood his constitutional rights. Defense counsel attempted to imply through questioning that DeLee was not aware that he could end the interview at any time, but Detective Hack continually stated that this right was included amongst those that DeLee read aloud and initialed at the beginning of the interview.
When Detective Hack asked DeLee to describe the events of November 14, 2008, DeLee said that at about 4:00 pm, he went to the house at 411 Seymour Street with Jasmine and Johnny Gaston to visit Nico Lemon. Then, DeLee went to his cousin’s home in Liverpool, New York (just outside of Syracuse) to sleep, where he said he remained until he went to work that evening. Detective Hack also testified that DeLee had heard that the police were looking for him, but decided neither to run from the police, nor turn himself in to the police. Hack also stated that, during the questioning, DeLee kept repeating, “It’s over, it’s over,” which the detective understood as referring to his life. DeLee also stated that he “could not beat this case,” and offered no further explanation of his actions on the evening of November 14, 2008. Finally, Detective Hack stated that DeLee asserted that he did not hate “homosexuals.”
Multiple Eyewitnesses to the Crime Set the Scene More Clearly
Several individuals present at the scene testified to the events that took place at 411 Seymour Street in Syracuse, New York, on November 14, 2008. According to these witnesses (described in greater detail below), there were several people present at the house throughout the day, including Lynn Marie Lemon, her son, Nico Lemon, his girlfriend, Erica “Chachi” Allison, Nico and Erica’s two small children, Erica’s mother, Pam Fletcher, Pam’s fourteen year old daughter, Carlishia Junios, her brother, David “Doughboy” Junios, his cousin, Johnny “Man” Gaston, his sister, Justine “Nicole” Gaston, her boyfriend, accused murder Dwight DeLee, and a young girl known by only a few people, Cassandra “Cassie” Williams. People came and went from the house during the day; however, by approximately 8:00 pm, Johnny and Pam were in the driveway of the house near Pam’s van, and Doughboy, Nico, Dwight DeLee, Cassie, Erica, and Alyssa were in the front yard of the residence, somewhere near area of the van (Johnny’s Chevy Venture) that was parked on the front lawn, near (or partially on) the sidewalk.
Witness for the Prosecution: Lynn Marie Lemon
Lynn Marie Lemon testified that she was at 411 Seymour Street between approximately 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm, where she was drinking with Pam Fletcher, a resident of the second floor of the house. Both women were drinking, cleaning out Pam’s van (which was at the residence), and supervising their children. She also saw David “Doughboy” Junious, Nico Lemon, and Erica Allison at the house; Lynn noted that she saw David and Nico drinking beer. When Lynn left 411 Seymour Street with her children, she passed Johnny Gaston’s van, which was heading in the opposite direction. Inside the van, Lynn saw Johnny Gaston, Jasmine “Nicole” Gaston, and Dwight DeLee.
Witness for the Prosecution: Erica Allison
Erica Allison, also known as “Chachi,” testified that she lived at 411 Seymour Street on November 14, 2008. On that date, Erica was hanging out with her family at the house drinking. She remembered seeing Nico Lemon, David “Doughboy” Junious, Carlishia “Lee Lee” Junious, Pam Fletcher, Lynn Marie Lemon, Johnny “Man” Gaston, Jasmine “Nicole” Gaston, Dwight DeLee, and Cassandra “Cassie” Williams. Erica recalled that Johnny, Jasmine, and Dwight DeLee arrived at 411 Seymour Street together, in Johnny’s van, which he parked in the front yard.
Erica clearly described the events immediately following Mark Cannon, Teish Green, and Star’s arrival at 411 Seymour Street. Erica stated that when Mark, Teish, and Star pulled up to the front of the house in a car, she, Carlishia, and Alyssa went up to the car and spoke to Mark, Teish, and Star. At this point, Johnny and Pam were standing near Pam’s van in the driveway, and Doughboy and Nico were standing near Johnny’s van in the front yard. As Erica walked back towards the van in the yard, she passed Dwight DeLee, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Erica heard DeLee say, “We don’t play that faggot shit.” Shortly after passing DeLee, Erica heard a sound, which she later realized was a gunshot. She never saw the gun with DeLee. Erica also identified the people’s exhibit fifteen to be the rifle that was kept unloaded in her closet at 411 Seymour Street.
Shortly after Erica saw DeLee, Johnny, and Jasmine leave 411 Seymour Street in Johnny’s van, the police arrived at 411 Seymour Street. Erica willingly went with the police to be interviewed. During this interview, Erica expressed that she was frightened to talk to the police because of who could be listening to her do so. Therefore, the officer gave Erica a piece of paper and a pen, and asked her to write down the names of who was at the house at the time of the shooting. Erica wrote down several names, and underlined Dwight DeLee’s name to indicate that he was the person she believed to be the shooter. However, Judge Walsh instructed the jury to ignore Erica’s statement that she underlined Dwight’s name to identify him as the shooter.
Erica also testified that she knew Mark and Teish for a long time; she stated that she had known Teish since she was thirteen years old. Erica said that she was unaware of Mark’s sexuality, but also said, “That’s fine by me if he was [gay].” Erica described both Teish and Star as women who preferred to date men; she made it clear that Teish and Star always dressed as women, and that Erica considered Teish and Star to be women. However, Erica did say that Teish was wearing a headscarf, t-shirt, and jeans on the night of November 14, 2008, and that these clothes were less feminine than Teish’s normal attire.
Witness for the Prosecution: David “Doughboy” Junious
When David “Doughboy” Junious (who is seventeen years old) testified, he corroborated Erica’s account of the events that November 14, 2008. Doughboy stated that he and Nico were drinking at the house, and that Cassie, Johnny, Dwight, Erica, Carlishia, Pam, and Jasmine were also present. Doughboy stated that he had met Dwight DeLee several times before November 14, 2008, and identified Dwight DeLee in the courtroom. Additionally, Doughboy stated that he knew Mark Cannon and Teish Green from the neighborhood, and that he believed both Mark and Teish were gay. Doughboy said that he was aware that Teish regularly dressed in female clothing.
In addition to reiterating some of the events that Erica “Chachi” Allison described, including the location of Pam and Johnny’s vans, Doughboy stated that when Mark, Teish, and Star arrived in the car, he was standing near Johnny’s van with Nico and Dwight DeLee. Soon after he saw them pull up to the house in the car, Doughboy said something about not wanting “faggots” at his house ("Why are these faggots out there?"), talked about his gun, and said that the gun was located inside his nephew’s closet in the house. Next, Doughboy heard Dwight DeLee say “I'll shoot them faggots.” Doughboy then saw Dwight DeLee come out of the house and go directly to the car; very quickly thereafter, the car drove away. Doughboy did not hear anything coming from the car; he said that there was music playing at this time. While Doughboy did not see the gun when Dwight DeLee came out of the house before going to the car, Doughboy did see DeLee holding the gun while standing in the doorway of the house after Mark, Teish, and Star drove away.
Doughboy described the rifle and identified it as his own. He then described the handling of the gun after the shooting took place. Doughboy said that DeLee went into the house with the gun and handed it to Nico, who then put the gun in the basement. Doughboy then retrieved the gun from the basement and put it under the mattress in the bedroom in the upstairs apartment, where Doughboy’s mother (Pam Fletcher) resided. During this time, Doughboy saw Dwight DeLee leave the premises in Johnny’s van, along with Johnny “Man” Gaston and Jasmine “Nicole” Gaston. While inside his house, Doughboy heard people saying that Dwight DeLee had shot the people in the car, but he did not want to believe that this was the truth, which is why he put the gun away.
During cross-examination, defense counsel asked Doughboy to state where the gun was usually kept. Doughboy said that it was kept in his nephew’s room, not Erica “Chachi” Allison’s room, as she had stated earlier. Doughboy also clarified that after he hid the gun, he fell asleep on the couch until the police woke him up.
Witness for the Prosecution: Nico Lemon
Nico Lemon, who is twenty years old, also lived at 411 Seymour Street on November 14, 2008 with his girlfriend, Erica “Chachi” Allison and their two children. Nico seemed very nervous during his testimony and hesitant to answer both of the attorneys’ questions. Nico stated that he was drinking at home on the evening of November 14, 2008. At some point that night, Nico was standing with Doughboy when a car drove up to the house. He said that he wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on, but that he saw Alyssa walk up to the car. He also saw Alyssa and Carlishia speaking to the people inside of the car. Then, he saw Dwight DeLee walk up to the car, as well. Nico denied hearing anyone mention the word “faggot” and denied saying anything to Alyssa, or anyone else, about not wanting gay people at the house. Nico admitted that his signed statement to the police included the fact that Dwight DeLee walked up to the car with a gun; however, Nico said that he only signed the statement because he was drunk and wanted to go home.
Nico also testified regarding the events that took place after the car (that Mark, Teish, and Star were in) drove away. Nico said that he saw Dwight inside the house with the gun, which was usually stored in Doughboy’s closet. Nico also said that he saw the same gun on the bed in the bedroom on the second floor of the house. While on the stand, Nico identified both the gun, as well as Dwight DeLee.
During the defense counsel’s cross-examination, Nico (after looking at his Grand Jury testimony) recalled seeing individuals in hooded sweatshirts near the house. He saw some people on the corner of the street, as well as individuals across the street from his house.
Throughout his testimony, Nico looked nervous and visibly distressed; he continually rubbed his face, looked down at his hands, and took long pauses before answering questions. When seen outside the courthouse during the lunch break, Nico was clutching his chest, in visible pain. He was able to walk, but officers or paramedics were on the scene, and he appeared to be suffering from serious chest pain.
Witness Intimidation: Judge Walsh Addresses the Court
After a brief recess for lunch, Judge Walsh addressed the court without the presence of the jury. Judge Walsh spoke directly to defendant, Dwight DeLee, and stated that, during lunch, he became aware of the fact that people who knew DeLee were threatening witnesses. The judge warned DeLee that these threats could result in criminal charges against the individuals making the threats, and might result in previously excluded evidence being presented to the jury. DeLee attempted to speak to the judge, but the judge refused to allow him to address the court.
Witness for the Prosecution: Steven Stone Sypher
Detective Sypher interviewed Nico Lemon after he was brought to the police department for questioning. Sypher testified that Nico was at first very unwilling to answer questions, but finally ended up giving a statement, which he signed. Sypher denied smelling alcohol on Nico’s breath, and asserted that Nico’s words were not slurred, that he knew the date, his name, and why he was being interviewed.
Witness for the Prosecution: Another Eyewitnesses to the Crime - Carlishia Junious
Carlishia “Lee Lee” Junious, 16, took the stand and was visibly distressed. During her testimony, she had to stop speaking several times because she was crying and, generally, very emotional. Carlishia stated that she was home, at 411 Seymour Street, on November 14, 2008, at a family get-together. She saw Johnny, Jasmine, and Dwight DeLee arrive in Johnny’s van, which she saw parked in the front yard. Carlishia said that she saw Mark, Teish, and Star drive up to the house. At that time, she walked up to the car and began speaking with the individuals inside of the car, as well as Alyssa and Alyssa’s child. While standing at the car near Alyssa, Carlishia saw Dwight DeLee walk towards the car. She heard DeLee say that "he'll knock out this faggot" and that the people in the car needed to leave. Then, Carlishia saw DeLee put a gun in the car and pull the trigger. She said that the gunshot sounded more like a popping sound than a normal gunshot. After Carlishia saw Dwight DeLee shoot into the car, she saw DeLee go into the house with the gun. Then, the car sped away from 411 Seymour Street.
During cross-examination, Carlishia said that she remembered the color of the car (silver) but not the make of the car. She also could not remember exactly what the people inside of the car were wearing, though she did recall where everyone was seated. Carlishia also clarified where DeLee placed the gun before firing; she said that the gun was inside the car, but not pointed at anyone in particular. Immediately after these events, Carlishia left 411 Seymour Street, though she may have seen DeLee get into Johnny’s van before doing so.
Witness for the Prosecution: Lashita Smith
As Lashita Smith took the stand, she winked at Dwight DeLee. She then identified Dwight DeLee, and stated that he was at her house in Liverpool, New York (just outside of Syracuse) sometime on November 14, 2008 and November 15, 2008. Finally, Smith testified that she was outside of her house at around midnight on Saturday, November 15, 2008 (or early Sunday, November 16, 2008) when the police came to her home and arrested DeLee. Smith stated that she did not give the police permission to enter her home.
Stipulated Witness Testimony
ADA Matt Doren stated that the prosecution and defense had agreed that if Dwight DeLee’s human resources manager at the company, “GSP,” where he worked from 11:00 pm on Friday, November 14, 2008 until 4:00 am on Saturday, November 15, 2008, were to testify, she would state that his timesheet reflected his presence at work during those hours.
Witness for the Prosecution: Alyssa Davis
Alyssa Davis, who is nineteen years old, stated that she has known Mark Cannon and Lateisha Green for 10 years. Alyssa articulated that Teish regularly dressed as a woman, which is a fact that was commonly known in the community. Alyssa stated that, on November 14, 2008, Mark and Teish dropped her off at 411 Seymour Street in the afternoon. She was drinking at the house with Pam, Erica, and Lee Lee until they went for a short trip to buy more alcohol. Later that evening, once it was dark out, Alyssa called Teish, asking her to come back to 411 Seymour Street with Mark; Teish, Mark, and Star arrived about thirty minutes later.
When they arrived, Alyssa went up to the car, and her child soon followed. Alyssa and her child were talking to Mark, Teish, and Star when she heard someone say from behind her, “Alyssa, get these faggots out of here.” Music was playing, but Alyssa assured the ADA that the man’s voice was definitely loud enough for her to hear the statement clearly. During this time, Erica walked up to the car and then returned to the house.
After Erica walked away, a dark skinned black man wearing a hooded sweatshirt came from behind her, walked up to the car, put a gun in the window, and said, “Y’all faggots get the fuck out of here,” and shot the weapon into the car. Alyssa stated that she saw the man’s hands, which were dark skinned, though she did not see his face. She later reasoned that the man was Dwight DeLee, as he was the only dark skinned black man at the house, and because she recognized his voice.
Alyssa said that she did not know that someone in the car had been shot before the car sped away. After Mark, Teish, and Star left 411 Seymour Street, Alyssa asked everyone in the yard what had happened, and who had brought the gun to the car. Then, she saw Johnny’s van leave and went into the house, where she remained until the police came to the residence and took her to the station. The police officer driving the car told Alyssa on the way to the police station that Teish had been shot.
Witness for the Prosecution: Steve Kilburn
Detective Kilburn testified that he was at the house in Liverpool when DeLee was found. He remained at the house for thirty to forty minutes after DeLee was taken to the police station, and then joined Detective Hack to assist with his interview of DeLee. Kilburn described the interview the same way that Hack did; he said that DeLee read his rights aloud, initialed next to each specific right, and signed the bottom of the document. He also stated that they offered DeLee food, drink, and the use of the bathroom. The detective said that DeLee kept offering the same story—that he was not at 411 Seymour Street after 4:00 pm, and that he remained in Liverpool after 4:00 pm until he went to work at approximately 11:00 pm. Kilburn described the interview as conversational, and likened the tone of the interview to that of the court proceedings at that time.
Witness for the Prosecution: Star Hopper
Editorial note: While Star did not identify herself as transgender at trial, she does identify as transgender. She was the only transgender-identified witness at the trial.
Star’s testimony was the most hard-hitting witness account of the trial. She took the stand confidently, but it soon became evident that she was very upset. As Star described the events of November 14, 2008, she became very emotional; at times, she was crying to such an extent that it was difficult to understand what she was saying.
Star stated that she knew Lateisha and Mark for about six to seven years. She stated that she understood Mark and Teish to be gay, and stated that she herself is gay. Star also noted that she saw Teish as a woman, that Teish dressed as a woman, and that Star used the name Lateisha “Teish” Green and female pronouns to refer to her.
On November 14, 2008, Mark, Teish, and Alyssa were in the car when they picked up Star. After Star got in the car, Mark and Teish dropped off Alyssa at 411 Seymour Street. Then, Mark, Teish, and Star went to Teish’s aunt Lisa’s house for a short time. After that, Alyssa called Teish to tell her what was going on at 411 Seymour Street and ask them to come back to the house. When they arrived at 411 Seymour Street, Mark was driving his father’s car, Teish was in the front passenger seat, and Star was in the backseat behind Mark. Teish was wearing female jeans (size 5/6 or 7/8), a white t-shirt, and a scarf; Star said that this was female clothing. Star said that she herself was wearing tight jeans, a tight shirt, and hair extensions.
After arriving at the house, they began talking to Alyssa, her child, Lee Lee, and Erica. On the stand, Star became very emotional when she described how, all of a sudden, she heard a bang and saw a flash of light. Then, she saw a man wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. She said that she could see his face and that he was dark-skinned. She did not know his name.
After the shot went off, Star heard moaning. She said that Mark seemed to be in shock. Teish began screaming at Mark to drive away, which he did only about one minute after the shot went off. As they drove towards the hospital, Teish kept asking Mark to take her home. As Mark drove them back to their house at 404 Arthur Street, Star heard Teish telling Mark that she loved him. At this time, Star called 911. By the time they got home, Teish could no longer speak, and Star didn’t think that she was breathing.
When they got to 404 Arthur Street, they saw Mark and Teish’s dad. The ambulance came very quickly, and people began to help Teish.
On cross-examination, Star insisted that the person who fired the weapon could not have been Johnny "Man" Gaston, as he was light skinned and the man she saw was definitely dark skinned. Also, she stated that she knew Johnny and did not know the man she saw shoot into the car.
The Prosecution Rests; Witness for the Defense: Sheila Gentile
The only witness for the defense was Sheila Gentile, the DNA expert who analyzed the gun. She stated that there were three distinct DNA samples on the gun, none of which matched the sample taken from DeLee. Gentile stated, however, that because of the surface of the gun and the differing qualities of each individual’s skin, this did not mean that every person who had touched the gun definitely left DNA on the weapon. Additionally, Gentile stated that the handling of the gun after the shot was fired, especially its location between the mattress and the box spring, may have caused some DNA to come off of the gun’s surface.
Defense Rests; Case Goes to the Jury Tomorrow
Testimony has concluded. Tomorrow will begin with closing statements from the prosecution and the defense. The case will then be turned over to the jury. At the close of evidence, defendant moved to have the murder charge thrown out and a manslaughter charge substituted in its place. Judge Walsh denied the motion. Defense then moved to have manslaughter 1 and 2 (with and without hate crime enhancements) added to the charges, as alternative options to murder for the jury. Judge Walsh will rule on defendant's motion tomorrow.
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