The 7-year-old was lying on the autopsy table face down. A large bullet wound circled the back of his small head near his neck.
Kamari Jones, an innocent boy, was the one who ultimately paid the price after alleged gang violence erupted in his neighborhood on that July night in 2014.
He was in his Parkview Street bedroom when shots rang out, one of which eventually struck him in the head.
Jurors viewed that graphic, yet chilling photograph Wednesday as the medical examiner used it to illustrate his testimony during the first-degree murder trial of 20-year-old Anfernee D. Knight.
Kamari’s mother, Mesheka Carter Evans, who was still seated near the prosecution’s table, closed her eyes during the moment the photograph was displayed.
When the image was removed, she opened her eyes again.
Dr. William Oliver, who performed Kamari’s autopsy, said the bullet pierced the child’s brain stem, the area that controls consciousness, respiration and the heart. And when that happens, he said, it’s an extremely rapid death.
Oliver also held the single bullet medical staff retrieved from his head. Other than the injury, Kamari was a healthy child, he added.
Knight, who watched closely, is also charged with several attempted first-degree murder charges as a result of a shooting that happened just hours prior near National Grocery on Stantonsburg Circle. Prosecutors say one shooting led to the other as a result of conflict and gang retaliation.
‘I KIND OF KNEW SOMEBODY WAS GOING TO GET SHOT’
Five others were charged in the child’s death, including 25-year-old Demetrius D. Spells, who testified during the afternoon court session.
Demetrius Spells told jurors that on July 23, 2014 that he, Knight, Donnell V. Hill, and Demonte Antonio Briggs were riding in a vehicle they ended up parking near National Grocery on Stantonsburg Circle.
That’s when gunfire erupted from another vehicle that didn’t stop. He said when he heard the shots, he ducked.
“Who shot back?” Prosecutor Joel Stadiem asked him.
“Knight shot back,” Demetrius Spells testified.
Previous testimony indicated that Antonio Pate was the one who shot at the vehicle they were in first. He was injured when witnesses say Knight returned fire.
Pate, who was a gang member of 8 Trey, which controlled the Five Points area, didn’t get along with gang members of MOB, which controlled the Snowden Drive area, according to testimony.
Knight was allegedly an MOB member, according to witness testimony.
After Demetrius Spells, Knight and the others left the scene of the first shooting, Spells said he called his “big cousin” Ceante Latrell Spells.
“I told him we got shot at,” Demetrius Spells testified.
Several other co-defendants met later, including Montavius S. Davis. Demetrius Spells said he borrowed his girlfriend’s car and he and Knight went riding around. And eventually, Knight received a phone call, he testified.
Demetrius Spells said that’s when Knight told him to drive over to the Starmount Circle area. He said he parked the car at Forrest Road and Knight got out of the car. Ceante Spells was also there in a different car with other co-defendants in the case, according to testimony.
Demetrius Spells said Knight, Davis and Vinson got out of the car and went between the duplex apartments in that area. While they were gone, he said he heard gunshots.
Knight came back to the car and they left, he testified. Demetrius Spells said he knew Knight had a 9 mm gun when he got out of the car. But Knight didn’t come back with a gun after the shooting, he said.
Prior to that Parkview Street shooting, Demetrius Spells said they heard that a guy called“Big Red” and an alleged member of the Vick Street gang lived on the street. And the MOB gang didn’t get along with them, according to testimony.
It’s alleged that Ceante Spells was also a member of the MOB gang.
Pate, who shot at the group of men first near National Grocery, was allegedly a member of the 8 Trey gang, who also didn’t get along with the Powell Street gang of which Davis was allegedly a member, according to testimony.
But Powell and the MOB gangs did get along.
Demetrius Spells said Knight didn’t tell him why he got out of the car that night on Starmount Circle.
“I kind of knew somebody was going to get shot at because of what happened to us at National Grocery,” he testified.
‘YOU WERE CHARGED WITH MURDER’
Under cross-examination, Knight’s defense attorney, Tom Sallenger, questioned Demetrius Spells about a video the prosecution played that showed both cars at National Grocery during the first alleged shooting around 7:30 p.m.
“Did you see anybody shoot in that video?” Sallenger asked.
“No,” Demetrius Spells replied.
Davis was allegedly carrying a .45 caliber gun while Knight was carrying a 9 mm, according to testimony.
Sallenger asked Demetrius Spells if he was aware the bullet that killed Kamari was fired from a large-caliber gun and Davis was the one carrying a .45.
Sallenger told the court that Knight wasn’t the one who had the 9 mm gun that night on Starmount, but it was Ceantre Spells, Demetrius’ cousin. Sallenger asked Demetrius Spells if it was true he was covering for his cousin.
Sallenger pointed out that Demetrius Spells was also charged with first-degree murder in the boy’s death as well as four counts of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill charges and discharging a weapon into an occupied moving vehicle. He said that all those charges were slated to be dismissed.
Part of Demetrius Spells’ plea deal includes pleading guilty to accessory after the fact of murder. He’s expected to get seven to nine years in prison.
Sallenger told the court that’s a pretty good deal for someone who was in a lot of trouble. Demetrius Spells said it was.
Sallenger also asked him where the 9 mm and .45-caliber guns were.
Demetrius Spells said he didn’t know and it was none of his business.
“It’s not your business?” Sallenger said as he voice got louder. “You were charged with murder.”