LIVINGSTON – A video recording showing the March 28, 2016, slaying of Derrick Stewart was entered into evidence Tuesday in the murder trial of Brian Allen Jr.
A Denham Springs Police Department detective took jurors through the recording in the Livingston Parish Courthouse, pointing out a man he identified as Allen shooting at a car that Stewart was in.
Two phone calls recorded at the Livingston Parish Detention Center also were entered as evidence, which the prosecutor charged had Allen directing a man to locate a gun and “wash it off” and Allen telling his then-girlfriend to lie about when they were together.
The prosecution presented most of its case in 21th Judicial District Court and has one more witness on Thursday, Assistant District Attorney J. Greg Murphy told Judge Jeffery Johnson.
Then the defense will present its case. Allen faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
According to the prosecutor’s presentation, Allen saw Stewart driving a Toyota Camry that Monday, the day after Easter. Allen went to his apartment, got a gun and drove his girlfriend’s gray Chevy Sonic to Maryland Street and parked.
When Allen saw Stewart try to pull out in his car, Allen blocked the Camry and forced it to go in reverse up Maryland to its intersection with MLK Drive. Allen got out of the car and opened fire on the Camry, striking Stewart. Allen’s car left him behind and he fled on foot, hiding the gun.
Dr. Karen Ross, a pathologist with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, testified Stewart died of a gunshot wound.
She testified the bullet entered in the left side of his back, under the ninth rib, hit the left lung and two veins then exited in the front area of his neck.
Detective Steve Lovett testified the home security video came from a residence near the Maryland Street-MLK Drive intersection where the shooting occurred.
The detective identified several persons seen walking in the video before the shooting. He said they were questioned but all said they did not see the shooting.
When the recording got to the moment of the shooting, Lovett identified Allen getting out of a car and opening fire on a Toyota Camry. He pointed out smoke could be seen coming from the gun.
Lovett said the police also used a drone to tape the crime scene and the path from the crime scene to where the gun was located.
The Denham Springs Police Department detective testified a confidential informant called him while he was enroute to the crime scene and told him “Little B had shot Woodchuck,” Stewart’s nickname.
Lovett said at the first crime scene, where the shooting occurred, there were eight shell casings. At the second crime scene, where the Camry sat at Plymouth Street and MLK Drive, he saw blood in the car and two projectiles.
Walter Felder, who was in the car with Stewart, had been taken to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center for treatment of a gunshot wound to the leg, the detective said.
When police got to the Lake, Felder had already been released, he added.
The Walker Police Department helped locate Felder, Lovett said, and when he interviewed Felder at the Walker police station, Felder identified Allen as the shooter.
Felder also identified Allen from a photo lineup, Lovett said.
The detective said he later interviewed Julius Scott, who they suspected of being with Allen during the shooting.
Scott asked him to turn off a recorder and the detective did, but a video camera with audio recording was still running, Lovett said.
Scott admitted he was in the passenger seat of the Chevy with Allen parked by a storage building, Lovett said.
When Stewart tried to pull out, Allen blocked him and forced Stewart to go in reverse the length of Maryland Street to its intersection with MLK Drive.
Scott recounted that Allen left the car, Lovett said, and Scott ducked down before he heard gunshots. Scott said he then panicked and jumped in the driver’s seat and fled, Lovett said.
Murphy entered the first phone call from the Detention Center when he called Nakava Thomas to the stand. Thomas, 23, testified she had been in a relationship with Allen for a month, although she knew him since she was 16.
She testified that, on the day of the shooting, Allen left their apartment in her car, a gray 2015 Chevy Sonic with tinted windows, at 2 p.m., then returned at 6 p.m. and picked up a gun.
Thomas said she asked the defendant where he was going, but he did not answer.
She testified she later got a text from a cousin telling her someone was shooting. Her grandmother called and told her that her boyfriend had been in a shooting in her car.
Thomas said her grandfather drove her to the home of Allen’s grandmother where her car was parked.
She said she finally met Allen at 2 a.m. and they went back to their Florida Boulevard apartment. She said she asked Allen if he was involved in the shooting and he denied it twice, then he admitted he was involved.
Thomas admitted she lied to police in two interviews, saying Allen was with her from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. eating crawfish.
Thomas testified she talked to Allen on March 30 in a phone call from the Livingston Parish Detention Center after his arrest.
Murphy played the call and Thomas identified her voice and Allen’s voice.
“You heard what I told you … we were together all day,” Allen said on the taped call.
The prosecutor asked her about her interview with the police on May 23 and she said that was when she told them Allen had come home and got the gun and he had admitted to the shooting.
“You were arrested,” Murphy asked Thomas.
“Yes,” she said.
“And you face charges.” Murphy asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“And no plea deal is in place,” Murphy asked.
“No,” she replied.
During cross-examination, public defender Shaan Aucoin asked Thomas “how many different stories have you told police?”
“Several,” Thomas answered.
The second phone call came during the testimony of Dion Nichols, who entered court in shackles and orange jump suit.
To Murphy’s questions, Nichols said he was on probation and flunked a drug test. Nichols also said he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact and got 5 years probation in return for testifying at Allen’s trial.
Nichols testified he was with Allen and Julius Scott and others on March 28 when they saw a gold Toyota Camry drive by.
Later when Nichols heard gunshots, he said he ran to his home. He then got a phone call from Allen asking him to go down Maryland Street and check the car that was there.
Nichols testified he told Allen he saw the Camry with blood inside but did not see anyone on the ground.
The 19-year-old testified Allen replied, “I got him. …”
Murphy then played a recording of a phone call from Allen to Nichols. In it, Allen directed Nichols to go to a house and locate a “black girl” and “wash it off.”
Nichols testified Allen meant for him to wipe down a gun to remove fingerprints and that he complied.
When the police came to his house with an arrest warrant and a search warrant, Nichols said he told them where the gun was. It was identified as a Springfield XD 40-caliber handgun, all black.
During cross-examination, public defender Tim Fondren brought up the issue of feeling safe in the neighborhood.
He asked Nichols how he felt if he saw a car he didn’t recognize on the street.
Nichols said he felt “nothing, you see a lot of cars.”
Fondren also asked why Nichols would “clean a gun of one person’s fingerprints and leave your fingerprints.”
“I was loyal,” Nichols replied.
The defense brought up the issue of feeling safe earlier in the trial while cross-examining William “Poon” Robinson.
Fondren asked Robinson if his neighborhood was a dangerous place to live. Robinson said no.
“Seeing a car you did not recognize didn’t alarm you,” Fondren asked.
“No,” Robinson said.
In his testimony, Robinson he was boiling meat, corn and potatoes for a group of friends on March 28 when Stewart and Felder came up, asked for food and talked briefly.
A gray Chevy pulled up and parked near a storage building. Robinson said he could not see inside because of the tinted windows.
When Stewart and Felder tried to leave, the Chevy cut them off and forced them to go in reverse to MLK Drive, Robinson said.
He testified he heard gunshots, jumped in his cousin’s car and went to MLK Drive, where he found Stewart on the ground.
Robinson said he warned Stewart before he left to “not get killed.”
When Fondren asked why he said that, Robinson said, “The lifestyle he was living, the gangster lifestyle.”