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Witness testifies in shooting
Jul 28, 2004 12:00 am
An 11-year-old who mistook gun blasts for fireworks witnessed the July 5 murder of a man inside the Upton Heights housing project.
The youngster took the witness stand yesterday as the state's only witness in the preliminary hearing of Ricky Whitlow, 44, who is charged with the handgun slaying of 22-year-old Andre Shannon.
Whitlow, who remains in custody under $750,000 bond, was ordered bound over to the Wilson County grand jury on homicide charges at the conclusion of yesterday's hearing.
The witness, Tykisha Shannon, testified that she saw the suspect chasing the victim and firing a handgun after initially hearing blasts that she thought were firecrackers.
"It looked like he was running to the house," she testified. "He (Whitlow) was shooting at him."
The child testified that she was a cousin of the victim – whom she referred to as 'Dre' during the hearing – and called the suspect by his nickname, referring to him as 'Tron.'
Shannon, who is preparing to begin the sixth grade, said she saw the victim "fall down" after one blast and described walking alone up to his prone, bleeding body in the minutes before midnight.
"I went over there to the body… I picked his hand up and he laid it back down," the child testified.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jason Lawson, the girl testified she was able to identify the suspect because she had previously seen him inside the federally funded housing development.
She told Lawson she and a friend heard blasts but initially believed the sound to be firecrackers because it was only July 5.
Instead, she testified, she saw the victim running with the suspect in pursuit.
"I saw Dre'. He was running. Then I saw 'Tron chasing after him. He was shooting a gun," Shannon testified.
On cross-examination court appointed defense attorney Jeff Cherry pressed the witness for details about the shooting, at one point asking her "how sure are you that this is the man you saw running that night?"
"Pretty sure," the youthful witness replied.
At one point during her cross-examination, Shannon's grandfather was escorted from the courtroom by officers when he apparently became irate at Cherry's line of questioning.
"She knows what she saw," the man yelled from the spectator's section of the courtroom, causing Judge Robert Hamilton to call for his ejection.
The slaying marked the second time in recent weeks that a local murder has been witnessed by a youngster.
Just weeks earlier, a stabbing slaying in the South Maple Street neighborhood was witnessed by a young girl who will likely be called on to testify if the case goes to trial, arrest warrants indicate.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.