Parties Deliver Opening Arguments in Murder Trial

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Parties delivered their opening arguments in a trial for the fatal shooting of Kenneth Poindexter.

A prosecutor began by displaying a powerpoint presentation showing his roadmap for the trial.

“This defendant, Steven Robin, was one of the defendants who caused [the victim’s] death,” he said.

Two other defendants, Edward Brown, 22, and Antonio McKenzie, 24, are also charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the shooting. Their cases were severed from 25-year-old Robin’s.

Charles Young, 30, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 18, 2018, homicide. He has since been sentenced.

Poindexter was shot on the 4700 block of Benning Road, SE. During the Oct. 28 proceedings, the prosecution showed a graphic of the crime scene with dots showing where evidence was found. Forty of these dots were bullet casings, allegedly fired by four shooters who got out of a white vehicle. 

The prosecutor said that camera footage from nearby the scene of the shooting depicts the license plate of the vehicle allegedly used to travel to and from the shooting. He said he plans on bringing in multiple key witnesses and experts, phone calls and DNA evidence. A forensic pathologist will also testify. 

He introduced evidence including a water bottle, cigarette butts and a vehicle. These items have a statistically certain chance of having DNA on them that match the three defendants’ DNA, he argued.

The defendant himself will testify about the aftermath of the shooting. The prosecution alleges he “boasted” about the murder in front of a group of people, saying the “victim was still breathing and he couldn’t allow that to happen,” the prosecutor said. 

“This defendant is guilty of first-degree murder while armed and other gun offenses,” the prosecutor concluded.

Defense attorney Kristin McGough followed.

“Keith Poindexter’s death is a tragedy,” she said. She went on to argue that her client was not one of the individuals who killed him.

McGough told the jury there is no witness who can identify Robin at the scene of the murder, calling it just one of many faults in the prosecutor’s arguments. 

“The devil will be in the details,” she said. 

McGough dove into the details of the prosecution’s witnesses – describing two of them as liars. 

One of the prosecutor’s witnesses allegedly made up full stories in front of a jury in 2019 in a case against her boyfriend, McGough said. She said it was found that she had called her boyfriend in jail and spoke about lying in court.

McGough also said that the witness testified that Young killed her other friend in a previous case, in which he was acquitted.

“This is someone who has the capacity to lie,” McGough said. 

Another witness allegedly lied to police when being questioned. McGough alleged that he lied at least twelve times and said he would do everything to not go back to jail. 

“Almost everything that comes out of his mouth that day was a lie,“ she said.

McGough also argued against the merits of the DNA evidence, saying it is not enough.

“Everyone has seen Jurassic Park, DNA lasts forever,” she said.  

The first witness, a grandmother who lives in an apartment nearby the murder, took the stand after opening arguments. The prosecutor showed her police interview and questioned her based on her prior answers. She responded to a majority of questions by explaining how she does not remember a good chunk of what happened but can identify events that occurred.

Before the shooting, a few women threw a rock into the grandmother’s apartment and signaled they wanted to fight her granddaughter, she said. The witness was questioned on how she approached this situation, and when she went to her balcony to talk to the women. She said that while there were two men together with them, she could not remember specifics.

“It was years ago and I was drinking and smoking,” the witness told the prosecutor during her questioning. She did, however, say she soon after saw a white vehicle drive up the road nearby her apartment.

The grandmother said that when , she ran inside and went back to bed.

“They got out shooting like it was the wild wild west,” she said. “I’m not gonna get shot by accident.”

McGough cross-examined the witness and she gave similar answers, saying she does not remember much of what happened.

“If I said I don’t remember, I do not remember,” she said. She continued to mention how she was on drugs, hungover and drunk all at the same time during the murder. She mentioned how two boys separated from the girls asking to fight her daughter. According to court documents, those men may have called someone and soon after, the white vehicle with the shooters appeared.

The grandmother said she could not see if the men were on the phone because she did not have her glasses on. She originally went out on the balcony to see the girls because she was “being nosy,” she said.

McGough painted a picture of what the street block looked like. She asked the grandmother if she was able to identify where the shooting was.The grandmother repeated that it was a “wild wild west out there” but she was able to show where the point in the block was.

A second witness began her testimony and was questioned by the prosecution. They showed her police interview, to which she was unable to answer questions on her previous testimony, responding to questions with, “I do not know” or, “I plead the fifth.” She also referenced doing drugs at the time.

This witness will take the stand again and be cross-examined on Nov. 1.

The charges Robin faces include first-degree murder while armed, conspiracy to commit a crime of violence and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

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