ITHACA, N.Y. — During closing arguments in an Ithaca shooting trial Thursday, the prosecutor called into question the credibility of the defense’s only witness — the man accused of shooting someone.
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James “Pip” Marshall is on trial for allegedly shooting Earl Brooks during an argument about a woman on June 27 at the West Village Apartments.
He’s charged with first-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
During Marshall’s testimony Thursday and Wednesday, he told a vastly different narrative than Brooks did in his testimony Tuesday and Wednesday.
The two stories
Marshall was at a woman’s apartment the morning of the incident when her Earl Brooks showed up wanting to go inside.
There is some debate about whether Brooks and the woman were still in a relationship with each other — Brooks said he was.
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.
In response to Brook’s behavior, Marshall called two men — on them was his brother — to go to the apartment, allegedly so he could walk out the door without having a dangerous confrontation with Brooks.
At some point, the woman opens the door to speak to Brooks and the two men end up face-to-face, according to surveillance video shown in court.
Brooks then throws a punch at Marshall and tackles him through the door frame of the apartment — this is where the stories greatly differ.
Brooks testified that he only attacked Marshall because he saw the man reach for his waistline.
“I believed it was a gun,” Brooks said during testimony.
He says that he tackled Marshall, was shot in the leg and did his best to hold Marshall down because the man had a gun. At some point, Brooks’ strength buckled from the pain of his injury and he rolled off Marshall.
“I knew I was hit, but I didn’t know where,” Brooks said.
The version of the story Marshall told is that Brooks lunged at him while holding a gun, but says he was able to swat the gun in Brooks’ hand downward and the man shot himself in the leg. The gun, Marshall said, then fell to the floor and was likely kicked into the kitchen where the men fought over it before Brooks rolled off of him.
“I was afraid,” Marshall said. “This dude’s trying to kill me.”
Marshall says he then pointed the gun at Brooks and told him, “You shot yourself for what? You shot yourself for a girl who doesn’t even want you.”
Marshall says he then threw the gun into the living room and ran out of the apartment where his brother and another man were waiting for him.
He says he did not know police were looking for him in connection with the shooting. He was found at a relative’s home in Brooklyn on Sept. 3 and taken into police custody by U.S. Marshals.
Prosecutor: “None of this is logical”
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Bonavia said that despite the immature actions of Brooks on the night of the shooting, Marshall’s testimony about the incident was not credible.
During cross examination Thursday and Wednesday Bonavia connected the following points, among others, to poke holes through Marshall’s story:
— Marshall did not call police while Brooks was pacing outside, when he tried to enter the home or after the shooting.
— During testimony, Marshall said he had no idea what a gun looked like and was not familiar with what a gun grip, barrel or trigger were.
— Marshall sent a text to the woman whose apartment he was at the night of the shooting telling her to tell “that (expletive)” not to say anything about the incident.
— Brooks was wearing a tank top and jeans, which Bonavia said left no room for him to conceal a gun from surveillance cameras pointed directly outside the door of the apartment where the shooting happened.
— Marshall said Brooks was able to push him into the apartment and onto the ground with one hand.
— Marshall left to Brooklyn the day after the shooting and says nobody told him police were looking for him in connection with the shooting.
“None of this is logical,” Bonavia said. “The physical dynamics of it is impossible.”
He said there is a reluctance to get testimony in the case because of a “street culture” where people do not report crimes to police.
But Bonavia asked jurors to scrutinize the authenticity of Marshall’s testimony.
“He doesn’t get a pass because he’s the defendant,” Bonavia said.
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Featured photo by Brian Turner of Flikr.