For nearly four months, jurors have heard evidence in the case charging Keir Johnson and Lester Williams with the shooting death of Jamal Coates, who was killed leaving a friend’s funeral in the U Street corridor in September 2010.
Prosecutors argued that Johnson and Williams, along with Robert Givens and Marcellus Jackson are linked by their allegiance to “G-Rod,” a group of “20 or so members” living near 14th and Girard. The four men face 80 criminal counts related to the deaths of Paul Jones, Sean Robinson and Coates.
On Tuesday, defense attorneys for Johnson and Williams addressed the jurors for a final time, arguing that eyewitness testimony contradicts with the testimony of witnesses who were former G-Rod members.
“The government says that you can’t believe the eyewitnesses, but that you should believe in Brandon Miller and Ricardo Epps,” said William’s defense attorney Kevin Oliver. “Miller lied on the stand. That’s the type of person you are dealing with.”
On the stand, Brandon Miller explained that G-Rod was “like a crew almost. One person get into it, we all get in it.”
Miller told jurors that he drove Johnson and Williams to and from the U Street Corridor on the day of Coates’s murder. Miller told jurors that during the shooting, Johnson wore a bandana and Williams wore a black hoodie.
On the stand, Miller testified that a pair of pants recovered from his car looked like the pajama pants that Keir wore.
“This case should be decided upon by facts, not on a riveting story full of holes,” said defense attorney Janai Reed on behalf of Johnson. “Miller testified that he didn’t see Keir Johnson with a gun that day because he didn’t see Keir Johnson at all.”
Reed noted that the government is unable to “tell the difference between actions based on a friendship and gang-related activity.”
“When the government tells you what to see,” said Reed, “Use your own eyes instead.”
Closing arguments are expected to resume tomorrow, followed by jury deliberations.