Defendant's girlfriend says she saw smoking gun in his hand

Justin M. Ross
Justin M. Ross

The girlfriend of Justin Ross, accused of killing Andre Herron in 2011, testified Wednesday that she didn't see the shooting but after a second shot was fired she saw smoke coming from her boyfriend's gun.

Allison Cunningham, 18, of Waterloo, admitted she didn't tell police about the smoking gun when they first interviewed her because she was scared and didn't know what was going to happen.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Besler asked why she told the truth later.

"I just wanted it to be done and over with," Cunningham said starting to cry.

Justin Ross, 19, is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. He is accused of killing Andre Herron, 30, of Cedar Rapids, Nov. 26, 2011. Herron was found dead on 7th Street SW that night. According to the criminal complaint, Justin Ross killed Herron with a .45 caliber revolver.

His cousin Donovan Ross, 21, of Hiawatha, is also charged with first-degree murder for his part in the shooting. His trial is set Oct. 7.

Andrea King, a friend of the Ross cousins, testified Tuesday that she didn't see the shooting but Justin Ross told her he shot Herron in the back and Donovan Ross said he shot Herron in the neck.

Cunningham, who has a child with Justin Ross, said she, King and two other women had plans to "set up some guys," including "KT," a former boyfriend of King's, that night of the shooting and then Justin and Donovan Ross were going to rob him. The women stayed in the car on a side street when the Ross' got out and some people came over to talk to them, including Herron.

"Crunchy (aka Herron) got into the backseat by me and started touching me and doing stuff he shouldn't," Cunningham said.

Then another friend, Donovan's former girlfriend, tried to stop Herron and hit him, Cunningham said. After Donovan found out about the incident he wanted to confront Herron. He and Justin Ross got out of the car but only Donovon Ross went to the door to get Herron. Justin Ross wasn't upset about what happened, she said.

"Didn't he just get out of the car and was smoking a cigarette," Jason Dunn, Justin Ross' attorney, asked on cross examination.

Cunningham said Justin Ross wasn't upset and he was just smoking.

On re-direct, Besler asked if Justin Ross had a cigarette in his hand when she saw him walking back to the car after the second gunshot.

She said he didn't have a cigarette in his hand.

Cunningham said the two guns the Ross cousins had that night were taken back to King's house but she didn't see them until the next day until Justin and Donovan Ross and others retrieved them from King's. She put the guns in a bag and gave them to the cousins.

She said the gun that belonged to Justin Ross looked like a "cowboy" gun with a wooden handle and Donovan's gun was a smaller black gun.

King testified Tuesday that Justin Ross had a revolver with a brown handle and Donovan had a black gun like what police might have.

The prosecution continues its case this afternoon. The trial is expected to last more than a week. 

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