Life without parole for car crash homicide trial (Feb. 18, 2011)
Robbery, car crash homicide trial begins (Feb. 15, 2011)
One dead after armed robbery shooting (Feb. 23, 2010)
(Feb. 16, 1:53 p.m.) The trial of Ntyono Pennie and Torrence Sanders for an alleged armed robbery and car crash homicide last February continued on Wednesday in Rockdale County Superior Court with testimony from the shooting victim’s roommate and the case’s lead investigator.
Raymond Carr, a Comcast technician, said he came home to his second floor apartment in the Harvest Grove (now named Woodland Trace) Apartment complex on February 23, 2010, to find two guys he didn’t know talking with his temporary roommate Danny Rakestraw and Rakestraw’s brother Emanuel Asamoah in the kitchen area.
Carr said he felt irritated at Rakestraw having unknown guests over. “It seemed like it was a constant thing.” Carr said he knew Rakeshaw had just been released from jail on drug charges and was letting him stay in his living room. Carr said he didn’t see marijuana being smoked but did notice the smell of marijuana smoke, which he said was not uncommon.
Carr had been home for about five minutes, drinking a beer he brought with him from the store, and was in the living room calibrating work equipment when he said he heard a gun being cocked. “That’s when I got pushed to move to the floor.”
As he lay face down on the floor, the visitors went through his pocket and took his wallet, cell phone and Bluetooth piece. The Bluetooth was later found dropped on the floor.
When the visitors went through Asamoah’s pocket, they reportedly exclaimed “Bingo.”
During cross examination, Carr said he heard Rakeshaw saying “Don’t hurt them; just shoot me,” and the visitors “said something about about (Rakestraw) snitching.”
One of the visitors told the other to get the car. “That’s when the shots were fired,” said Carr. He estimated about three to four shots.
When the shooter left, Carr and Asamoah went to the window and saw a black car driving off. They called 911 and attended to Rakestraw, who had been shot in the arm.
Lead investigator RCSO Cpl. Jake Coggins also took the stand, describing how he found a gun clip with six rounds on the floor of the black Maxima that crashed into the car of 56-year-old Shirley Aiken, who suffered a torn aorta and fractured ribs and later died from her injuries. Coggins and crime scene investigators also found a Ruger handgun in the glove compartment of the Maxima with three bullets in the clip.
While Coggins was making the handgun safe, taking out the clip and sliding the rack, an empty shell casing of a hollow-point bullet came out of the chamber.
Coggins explained that normally the empty casings are ejected after a bullet is fired, but if something were covering or blocking the casing’s exit, such as a hand wrapped around the gun, the casing would remain.
He also spoke with Rakestraw at Atlanta Medical Center before he went into surgery. Coggins described Rakestraw as being very animated and angry. “‘They tried to kill me’ – he kept saying that over and over again,” Coggins said.
(Feb. 16, 5:36 p.m.) The jury also heard from Georgia Bureau of Investigations crime lab experts.
Firearms identification expert Jennifer Murphy testified that the shell casings found in the kitchen floor of the apartment had been fired from the Ruger handgun found in the glove compartment of the Maxima.
DNA analyst Chantel Runnels testified that one of the swabs taken from the inside of the Maxima windshield above the steering wheel where it looked like it had been struck by an object appeared to be a match to the DNA samples taken by Sanders but not by Pennie.
Both Sanders and Pennie decided not to testify, and the defense did not call up witnesses of their own.
Sanders’ defense attorney, Chris Flinn, asked for a motion for a direct verdict of acquittal and a finding of ‘not guilty.’ Flynn said the state had provided insufficient evidence to put Sanders at the scene of the armed robbery.
District Attorney Richard Read said Rakeshaw had repeated a number of times that Sanders had put a gun in his face at the apartment.
Pennie’s attorney Brian Ross added, “There simply is no evidence to support the theory that the commission of the armed robbery and assaults led to the death of Ms. Aiken.”
Read said that the pursuit began within two minutes of the robbery and that the crash occurred about a half mile from the apartment complex.
Judge Sidney Nation denied the motion.
Closing arguments will be presented tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m.