A Georgetown jury will have to decide whether the 2008 fatal shooting of Antonio Tisdale was an act of self-defense or the result of an escalation of violence between two Andrews neighborhoods.
At stake is the future of Dominic Leggette, 21, who is on trial on a murder charge in Tisdale's death. Leggette also is charged with assault and battery with intent to kill in the nonfatal shooting of Al Ingram in the same incident.
Witnesses and investigators testified Tuesday that Leggette had the only weapon at the scene, a Winchester .380 gun, and fired at Tisdale and Ingram Aug. 13, 2008.
What is less clear isLeggette's intent. Deputy Solicitor Scott Hixson, with the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office, told jurors that Leggette showed malice and forethought by bringing a gun to Blue's nightclub in downtown Andrews.
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"Three shots. Bam, bam, bam. An absolute celebration of power," Hixson said during his opening statement. "Leggette decided he was going to be a man by grabbing a gun ... with three shots he came of age."
Senior attorney Ronald Hazzard, from the public defender's office, contended Ingram and Tisdale chased Leggette to the Superchic convenience store, forcing Leggette to defend himself. Hazzard said during trial Tuesday that there had been a long standing dispute between those living in the Jones Avenue and Uptown neighborhoods, which included the three young men.
"What this case is about is the fact that defending yourself is never a crime," Hazzard said. "The state's witnesses began to harass him. Dominic Leggette attempted to remove himself. Once they saw him leave, then they ran after him. Evidence will show ... he did what he felt he needed to do to protect his life."
Witnesses and investigators in testimony Tuesday described the scene. .
Andrews Police Sgt. Verney Cumbee said when he arrived at the scene, witnesses told him "Tony just got shot" referring to Tisdale.
"I saw Mr. Tisdale laying on the pavement. I don't recall whose arms he was in," Cumbee said, who was first on the scene. "They said 'Dominic just shot Tony.'"
He said, "I put my hand the on the wound and kept talking to him. ... He wasn't conscious but he was breathing. I could see his chest moving up and down. I just said 'Keep breathing. Keep breathing.' When I was saying, 'Tony, can you hear me? Can you hear me?' he never responded."
Cumbee said while he was tending to Tisdale, he noticed Ingram also had been shot .
"Do you know who shot you?" Cumbee said he asked Ingram. "He said 'Yeah, but I don't know his name.' I look at Mr. Ingram's foot, you could see the blood coming out of his sneakers."
Tisdale died from a puncture of the left lung, said forensic pathologist Cynthia Schandal, who testified Tuesday. She said a bullet caused the puncture.
Ingram, who is from the Jones Avenue area, also took the stand Tuesday, describing the events that led to the shooting. Ingram said he and Tisdale were hanging out in front of Blue's club at about 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2008.
He and Tisdale left the group briefly, and when they returned, they saw Leggette. As Ingram and Tisdale approached the group, Ingram said he saw a dispute between Leggette and the other Jones Avenue group.
"When I came back, like I said, it was [Leggette] and two other people. Words were exchanged," Ingram said.
As Ingram and Tisdale approached people yelled "Look, there's Dominic."
"I guess [they did it] to start a fight," Ingram said.
Ingram had altercations with Leggette , who is from the Uptown area, on the Saturday and Monday before the shooting. There was also a fight involving Leggette a year prior. None of the prior fights included weapons.
Leggette left after Ingram and Tisdale rejoined the group, heading in the direction of the Superchic store on Main Street and Farr Avenue.
Within a few minutes, Ingram said Tisdale said he wanted to go to the store to get cigarettes. The Superchic was the closest store.
"We were just walking. Before we could get to Mama's kitchen, I could see [Leggette] tying something around his face, but I didn't think anything about it," Ingram said. "It was tied over his face, and his mouth. Like he had it on his face, like he was trying to hide his face or something."
It was shortly after that the shooter took a gun out of his waistband and started shooting.
"He fired the gun maybe three or four times," Ingram said. "I could see him get the gun out. I couldn't get out of the way. It was just too fast."
Ingram said he was hit by a bullet in the ankle, he fell on the ground and got back up and he and Tisdale started running back toward Blue's.
"We were running basically side to side," Ingram said. "I said 'Tony, he shot me'. He said, 'He shot me too.'"
After arriving at Blue's, Ingram realized Tisdale had fallen behind. He backtracked and saw Tisdale on the ground.
Leron Gardner, a former Andrews resident who was in town visiting, was holding Tisdale at the time. Gardner had originally arrived at Blue's at about 8 or 9 p.m. that night with Leggette.
He and Leggette went to Blue's to give Leggette's girlfriend a phone charger. On the way, Gardner said Leggette showed him the gun.
"He just showed it to me," Gardner said. "He said, 'Check out what I got.' You know how homeboys do."
After they arrived, Gardner said things started to get hostile.
"I was scared," Gardner said. "People started messing with us. [Leggette] took off running, and he left. Billy and Al ran off after him. That's when I heard gunshots."
Tisdale was also known as "Billy" and "Tony" by his friends.
Gardner said he couldn't see the shooting unfold because his view was blocked.
The trial is expected to resume today at 9:30 a.m. at the Georgetown County Judicial Center.