Prosecutors in the murder trial against Arik Sims say that his “constantly evolving story” shows his guilt in the shooting death of Lamar Fonville. But Sims’ defense attorneys say Sims was scared and multiple eyewitnesses say Sims didn’t kill his friend.
After seven days of trial, it is now up to jurors to decide whether another man shot Fonville while Sims was at home with his sick mother and tattoo clients, or whether Sims shot Fonville seemingly without provocation because Sims thought Fonville robbed his mother’s house.
Fonville, 33, was found with a gunshot wound outside an apartment building in the 7400 block of Georgia Avenue Northwest around 2:29 a.m. on September 30, 2012. Sims is charged with first-degree murder and three related weapon charges in connection with his death.
On the stand, Sims told jurors he went to a party in the nearby apartment building with three friends. Sims said he saw Fonville, but only stayed at the party for about 15 minutes before he returned home to attend to his tattoo clients at around 2:00 a.m.
Adam Jackson and Avery Knight testified that Sims was not the one who shot Fonville after the party they attended. Jackson said that the shooter had shoulder-length dreadlocks and wore a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood down. Knight said that a tall man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt without the hood up and chest-length dreadlocks shot Fonville.
Rudasill reminded that Knight said Sims wasn’t the shooter, even though he “hates” Sims.
But on the stand, Houston Brown testified that he did not know either Jackson or Knight, and didn’t invite Sims to the party he threw at his apartment in the 7400 block of Georgia Avenue Northwest. Brown testified that he did see Fonville and his friend Leslie Issac that night. In fact, Issac tried to steal money from one of the strippers at the party, Brown said.
After Fonville paid back the money that Issac owed, Brown let them back in, he testified. Later, he saw the two men outside around 2:00 a.m. as he left to go to IHOP.
Leslie Issac testified that he saw Sims talking to Fonville on the steps between two buildings that night and that the two did not appear to be arguing. But then, without provocation, Sims pulled a gun from his waistband and fired at Fonville, Issac said.
Defense attorneys argue that Issac’s testimony is inconsistent, noting that Issac originally said Sims was wearing a white t-shirt before claiming it was a hoodie. In his closing statement, defense attorney Anthony Cade noted that Issac had a lengthy criminal record and appeared to be unable to recognize his own lawyer in the courtroom.
Prosecutors argue that Issac’s testimony is corroborated by forensic evidence that suggests the shooter fired down onto Fonville and physical evidence found on the scene. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Nelson asked jurors to carefully consider the eyewitnesses called by the defense who have obstruction of justice charges and currently reside in the same part of the jail as Sims.
In addition to the testimony of Issac, prosecutors told jurors to consider Sims’ confession to childhood friend Geoffrey Adams.
On the stand, Geoffrey Adams testified that Sims told him he took the battery from his phone before walking up to Fonville, shaking his hand, saying to him, “Really? My mom’s house, really?” and pulling the trigger.
Adams testified that Sims asked him to say that he was at Sims’ house during a time frame, and that they then went to IHOP.
“Repercussions flow just from having your name put into things, that’s what he asked for alibis,” said defense attorney James Rudasill.
Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Additional reporting by Timothy Ryan.