CEDAR RAPIDS — The first-degree murder trial for a 17-year-old, accused of shooting a 21-year-old man and injuring another teen in 2016, will not start Monday because the defense asked for more time to prepare in light of gaining access to additional police reports.
Kenyauta Vesey-Keith of Cedar Rapids, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury causing serious injury and intimidation with a weapon. He is accused of fatally shooting Brandon Johnson, also of Cedar Rapids, on March 19, 2016.
Johnson was killed during a fight in the 1100 block of Maplewood Drive NE, a criminal complaint shows. At least a dozen people, adults and juveniles, were fighting that day in the middle of the street.
Police say Vesey-Keith, who was 16 at the time, got a gun from a vehicle, fired multiple rounds, with bullets hitting two people. Johnson was killed and Deaveon Gaudlin, 16, was seriously injured.
Vesey-Keith’s lawyers asked 6th Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever on Wednesday if they could have access to certain police reports involving Johnson. The lawyers said those reports were relevant and may provide an explanation to Vesey-Keith’s state of mind — why he took action against the victim. Vesey-Keith is claiming self-defense.
Sara Smith, Vesey-Keith’s lawyer, also during that hearing asked the court for a continuance because they needed time to review it. Smith said the additional reports contained complaints made by Vesey-Keith and his parents regarding violence or harassment by the victims and others.
In her second motion to continue the trial filed Friday, she said several reports, including several 911 recordings, need to be reviewed and investigated. Also, one or more of the prosecution’s witnesses may need to be deposed again.
Linn County Jerry Vander Sanden said Wednesday he was opposed to resetting the trial because it’s been pending for two years, and he didn’t think anything in those reports were new evidence or relevant to this case.
McKeever denied continuing the trial on Wednesday but after he reviewed the additional police reports on Thursday and allowed the defense to obtain access to them, he agreed to reset the trial.
A new date wasn’t set late Friday afternoon.
The 2016 fatal shooting was a continuation of a dispute that began with a brawl in the Lindale Mall food court in February 2014, police said. That mall fight turned into an ongoing rivalry between two families and their friends.
Vesey-Keith’s mother, Saresa Keith, 39, was also charged and convicted of bringing four of her children and another teen to the street fight and participating in the brawl. She received a suspended jail sentence and two years probation in November.
Saresa Keith pleaded guilty in October to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and assault causing bodily injury. She admitted to bringing her three daughters, ages 12, 17 and 20, along with a 15-year-old family friend and her son, Vesey-Keith. She also admitted to assaulting another person with a Taser she brought with her that night.
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