Opening statements made in Lamar Wilson Iowa City Pedestrian Mall shooting trial

(FILE PHOTO) Lamar Wilson walks into the courtroom for a hearing at the Johnson Country Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Wilson is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and criminal gang participation. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) Lamar Wilson walks into the courtroom for a hearing at the Johnson Country Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Wilson is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and criminal gang participation. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A prosecutor said during her opening statement that three people — Kaleek Jones, Xavier Hicks and D’Andre Hicks — “paid a price” Aug. 27 on the Iowa City Ped Mall because Lamar Wilson was angry over a Facebook post.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said the “price” they paid came when Wilson shot Jones, who died, and two other men, who were not armed and were seriously injured. And none of these men posted anything on Facebook that day.

Lyness said the “peaceful, fun-loving atmosphere” of the Ped Mall changed in those early morning hours when Wilson and his friends collided with Jones and his friends.

Wilson, 21, is on trial this week in Polk County District Court on a charge of first-degree murder, two charges of attempted murder and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. He is accused of fatally shooting Jones, 22, and injuring Xavier Hicks and D’Andre Hicks.

Jury selection started Monday, and a jury was seated Thursday afternoon. The trial is expected to last three weeks in Polk County, where the trial was moved because of extensive pretrial publicity.

Lyness, during her opening statement, said Wilson was upset because Donte Taylor, Jones’ friend, had made derogatory Facebook posts about Daquan Jefferson, nicknamed “Cutthroat,” who died in a car accident.

Taylor, Jones and their friends had taken issue with Jefferson because he made a disrespectful song about Latasha Roundtree, 19, of Cedar Rapids, who was murdered in 2012.

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Wilson and his friends had gotten together earlier that day to celebrate Jefferson’s life, and it was then that Wilson found out about the negative messages on Facebook.

Wilson had a party that night as his house in Iowa City and then the group decided to go down to the Ped Mall, Lyness said.

Taylor will testify that when they arrived, people from Wilson’s group were pointing him out and he thought there might be a confrontation.

As Taylor and Jones got near the tunnel area at the end of the Ped Mall, he saw two in the other group with guns. Taylor, who is a felon, also had a gun.

Lyness said Taylor will testify that Wilson started shooting first and fired five shots, then two more.

Jones was shot in the back and neck and he fell to the ground. Then, Xavier and D’Andre Hicks were shot.

The bullet that was lodged in Jones’ neck would have left him paralyzed, but he died two days later, said.


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Wilson then ran east and officers stopped him near the Iowa City Public Library.

Before Wilson was stopped, he threw the gun in the trash and didn’t admit he was the shooter. When officers found the gun, Wilson didn’t say it was his.

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Lyness was pointing this out because Wilson is claiming he was justified in the shooting because he was defending himself against what he perceived as “deadly force.”

Lyness has argued in previous hearings that according to Iowa’s new “stand-your-ground” law, the person must report a shooting as self-defense.

When police interviewed Wilson at the station later, he said no one pointed a gun at him and did not say he had shot anyone.

Lyness said Wilson admitted later that it was his gun and that he was involved in the shooting.

Matt Shimanovsky, Wilson’s lawyer, in his opening statement told the jury to disregard all the “smoke” from the prosecution and to not jump to any conclusions because “this is really a simple case.”

He said he agreed with much of what Lyness said, but the only thing important is about a 15-minute segment of time.

The prosecution will have to prove its case based on witness testimony and the quality of the police investigation because there is no video evidence.

Shimanovsky said this isn’t a case of “whodunit.” He doesn’t argue that Wilson fired the shots. The question is — were Wilson’s actions reasonable? Was he justified in using deadly force?

Shimanovsky said Taylor was the “antagonist” that night. Taylor was the one posting those things about Jefferson, saying he’s “ready for war.”

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Taylor and Jones had been in Cedar Rapids watching a boxing match on television and didn’t go back to Iowa City and the Ped Mall until 1 or 1:30 a.m., Shimanovsky said. The bars close at 2 a.m. If they were just looking for a fun time, why would they go so late unless they were looking for someone. Taylor and the others had at least three guns.

Wilson and his friends were hanging out to have a good time, Shimanovsky said. They had been there since 10 p.m.

People in Jones’ group were brandishing and showing off their guns before they approached Wilson. Then they lined up in formation and stared at Wilson for about 20 minutes before approaching him.

Wilson did fire his gun five times, striking Jones and the Hicks’ brothers, Shimanovsky said.

“The question is was Wilson in reasonable fear of safety when he fired,” Shimanovsky said. “The state’s case will rise and fall on credibility of witnesses. Credibility is key to this case.”

Shimanovsky told the jury the only just verdict is to find Wilson not guilty on all counts.

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