“Chappell and Moorer were walking so close that night that people may have thought they were together,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis said in opening arguments Monday.
But defense attorney Emily Stirba has a different theory and argued that the wrong man is on trial.
“Demonta Chappell is innocent, and he had nothing to do with this murder,” Stirba said. “You are going to hear a fabrication of a story, involving people serving in their own interest, where a man is blamed for someone else’s crime.”
Chappell, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder while armed, along with two firearm offenses, and obstruction of justice in connection with the shooting death of 26-year-old Moorer.
Police found Moorer in the 500 block of Parkland Place Southeast suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
According to prosecutors, an eyewitness saw Chappell holding a gun to Moorer’s head, and then watched Chappell shoot him repeatedly.
On Monday, Doris Bronson testified that on the night of Moorer’s death, she went to the store to buy medicine for her daughter. On her way back home, she saw Chappell and Moorer together; she didn’t think anything was suspicious. “They seemed like two regular guys,” Bronson said in court.
“While I was walking back home, I cut through the park and noticed two males behind me,” Bronson said. “As I continued to walk ahead, the two passed by me.”
Soon after, Bronson said, she heard a gunshot. She saw Chappell aim the gun at Moorer’s head, then shoot him once and, after he fell, shoot him twice more.
“He was shaking and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head,” Bronson said, in broken sobs. “I was screaming for people to call for help.”
Stirba, the defense attorney, argued that the prosecution’s witnesses can’t be trusted. Bronson initially lied to police, Stirba said, but has a different story now that she has a pending case for stealing materials from the US Attorney’s Office.
“The witnesses in this case are not reliable, credible, or trustworthy,” Stirba said. “Bronson told police she ‘saw nothing’ and then comes forward months later. This case involves stories out of necessity.”
Stirba told jurors that Chappell is a “terrified young man charged with something he did not commit,” and that the lack of evidence will show that he is not guilty.
Kravis, the prosecutor, told jurors that witnesses’ testimony, physical evidence and a cell phone prove that Chappell is guilty. Kravis added that Bronson initially lied out of fear, but Chappell later embarked on a “campaign to get witnesses to lie.”
The trial will resume Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Rhonda Reid Winston.