A prosecutor opened the first-degree murder trial of Eric Blackmon on Wednesday with a simple narrative of predators and prey.
“Two criminals went out on a hunt,” Assistant District Attorney David Kelly told the six-man, six-woman jury.
Their target: “an innocent person to rob.”
On May 15, 2011, Miguel Corado was shot and killed as he sat on the trunk of his car in a parking lot near Central Avenue and Briarcliff Road. A police photo taken the night of the shooting showed Corado’s keys and phone still resting on the trunk, splattered blood pooling around them.
Blackmon, 27, was arrested four days later and charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He had been released from prison two months earlier after serving time for robbery and larceny.
Another man, 25-year-old Kenneth Ravenell, was also charged with murder and robbery after contacting police about the killing. His trial is pending.
During the first day of Blackmon’s trial, the jury heard from two witnesses to the shooting. One, Louis Gomez Lopez, had been with Corado as the robbers approached. The other, Jose Hernandez, said that he saw the shooting, then ducked behind a trash can as the suspects’ car sped by – so close that he and the car’s passenger exchanged glances.
In the afternoon, Judge Eric Levinson threw one of Blackmon’s friends out of the courtroom, accusing Justin Holmes of talking and responding to some testimony by shaking his head. Levinson called the gestures potentially intimidating to the witnesses and the jurors.
Levinson angrily ordered Holmes, who had watched the trial with the defendant’s family, to stand before him.
“You want to try my patience, you can,” the judge said, his voice rising. “But it will be a long time before you see the light of day.”
Levinson told Holmes he can return to the trial Thursday if he follows the judge’s rules. He then told him to leave.
Outside the courtroom, Holmes declined comment and walked away.
‘Keep an open mind’
In his opening statement, Kelly said the video from a security camera will show that the two defendants came across Corado the night of the shooting while the victim was paying his cellphone bill at a Central Avenue check-cashing business. One of the suspects was wearing a red T-shirt.
The prosecutor said the defendants followed Corado’s Toyota Corolla to Wembley Avenue, about a half mile away. There, Corado stopped to visit Lopez, who offered to get him a beer.
Moments later, Lopez said, a man brandishing a black handgun held sideways told the two not to move.
With the help of an interpreter, Lopez told the jury that he bolted for his nearby apartment, heard a shot, and turned to see that his friend had slid off the back of his car and was lying face down on the pavement.
Eventually, Lopez ran across the street to the home of Hernandez, his friend. Hernandez told the jury that he had been hanging wash on the line when he saw two men, one of them pointing a gun, approach Corado and Lopez. Then, he said, he saw the shot.
Both men were African-Americans, with dreadlocks tied up in buns, Hernandez said. He said the shooter wore a red shirt and was the shorter of the two robbers.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Dean Loven reminded the jury that the state will present evidence on “what they want you to believe.”
He said thousands of people have red shirts, thousands of people are African-Americans, and thousands of people have similar DNA. “That does not make them criminals,” Loven said. “You must keep an open mind. You promised to keep an open mind.”
Liz Crampton and Neil Haggerty contributed.
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