ITHACA, N.Y. — At the West Village Apartments in Ithaca, cameras face in nearly every direction. So the fact that none of them captured whether James “Pip” Marshall shot a man in the leg was a major issue brought up by his defense lawyer and the district attorney’s office.

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James “Pip” Marshall is charged with first-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He allegedly shot a man in the leg during an argument about a woman around 3:30 a.m. on June 27. He was found at a relative’s home in Brooklyn on Sept. 3  and taken into police custody by U.S. Marshals.

During opening statements Tuesday morning, both Assistant District Attorney Andrew Bonavia and defense attorney Jason Leifer agreed with the same general narrative about the events leading up to the shooting.

Marshall was at a woman’s apartment the morning of the incident when her possibly ex-boyfriend, Earl Brooks, showed up wanting to go inside. The woman denied Brooks entry to the apartment hoping to prevent a confrontation between the two men. Brooks then paced around outside her apartment — at one point allegedly trying to break into the home through a window — for nearly two hours.

“Mr. Brooks did something that was unwise. He should have just gone home,” Bonavia said.

Leifer agreed that if Brooks had gone home, the shooting would likely not have happened.

This is where the stories start to severely vary.

Bonavia said that while Brooks and Marshall were exchanging words through an opened front door, Brooks says he saw Marshall pull his hand to his waistband, leading him to think a gun was tucked inside of it.

He then threw a punch at Marshall and the two men began to fight, temporarily falling out of the camera’s ability to record them.

That’s when Brooks was shot in the leg, Bonavia says by Marshall.

Liefer said that making the assumption that Marshall shot Brooks does not prove that’s how things happened that night.

He points out two other men — who allegedly went to the apartment at some point at the request of Marshall — may have also been the shooter. He said investigators also made the assumption that Marshall was the shooter and these other men were not, he said, thoroughly considered suspects.

“He said what he needed to say to get my client in trouble,” Liefer said about why Brooks would have accused Marshall of the crime.

The trial resumes Wednesday morning.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.