Public Safety

Jury selection continues Tuesday for 18-year-old charged in fatal shooting during 2016 street fight

Kenyauta Vesey-Keith (center) stands with attorneys Todd Weimer and Amy Dollash during a hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Friday, July 8, 2016. Vesey-Keith’s attorneys are asking for a reverse waiver to be heard in juvenile court instead of adult court. He is charged in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Brandon Johnson during a fight on March 19. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Kenyauta Vesey-Keith (center) stands with attorneys Todd Weimer and Amy Dollash during a hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Friday, July 8, 2016. Vesey-Keith’s attorneys are asking for a reverse waiver to be heard in juvenile court instead of adult court. He is charged in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Brandon Johnson during a fight on March 19. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Jury selection will continue Tuesday for an 18-year-old who is accused of fatally shooting a 21-year-old and seriously injuring a 16-year-old during a neighborhood street fight in March 2016.

Kenyauta Vesey-Keith of Cedar Rapids, who was 16 at the time, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury and intimidation with a weapon.

A criminal complaint shows Vesey-Keith fatally shot 21-year-old Brandon Johnson and seriously injured Deaveon Gaudlin, now 18, both of Cedar Rapids, on March 19, 2016 in the 1100 block of Maplewood Drive NE.

Vesey-Keith is accused of participating in a street fight between rival families and their friends that day. Police said at least a dozen people — adults and juveniles — were fighting in the middle of the street. This brawl was a continuation of a dispute between the families that started in February 2014 with a fight in the Lindale Mall food court.

In the Maplewood Drive fight, Vesey-Keith is accused of getting a gun from a vehicle and firing multiple rounds.

Vesey-Keith is claiming self-defense in the shootings.

The trial has been continued six times since he was charged.

In a related case, Vesey-Keith’s mother, Saresa Keith, 39, also was charged and convicted in the Maplewood Drive fight.

She pleaded guilty in October 2017 to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and assault causing bodily injury.

She admitted during the plea hearing she brought her son, Kenyauta Vesey-Keith, to the fight, along with her three daughters, ages 12, 17 and 20, and a 15-year-old family friend.

She also admitted to assaulting another person with a Taser she had brought with her.

The mother received a suspended jail sentence and two years probation.

Jury selection didn’t start until Monday afternoon. The judge and lawyers were taking up final motions filed and going over juror questionnaires. Opening statements could start sometime on Tuesday and the trial is expected to go into next week. Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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