BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — An attorney for one of the three suspects charged in the Riverchase Galleria shooting that killed 8-year-old Royta Giles Jr. and injured three others is claiming new evidence supports his client acted in self-defense.
King Gary Williams’s attorney, John Lentine, says witness statements prove that Williams acted in self-defense. However, Judge William Bell Jr. is stating the exact opposite–that the new witness statements are, in fact, consistent with the evidence already submitted at the preliminary hearing.
During the course of the preliminary hearing, it was established and accepted by all parties that Montez Coleman fired the initial shot prior to Demetrius Dewayne Jackson Jr. and King immediately firing 11 total shots from their guns, court documents say.
In early July, Hoover police announced capital murder charges against Williams and Jackson, both 19 years old and from Birmingham. Both were also charged with three counts of second-degree assault in connection to the wounding of three others inside the mall on July 3.
According to testimonies from the Adore store inside the Galleria, one witness reported, “that he witnessed the ‘guy with the backpack arguing’ with Williams and Jackson’s group and indicated that he saw a member of Williams and Jackson’s group raise his shirt to flash a gun.” The witness continued by saying he left the store doorway to avoid the shooting but also heard a voice from the group say “pull it out” prior to the shooting.
Another witness from the Adore store told Detectives Savage and Lowe, in part, that prior to the shooting, he overheard both Coleman and Williams and Jackson group “teasing each other.” Detective Lowe asked if the teasing was like they were antagonizing each other and the witness stated “yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly,” court records say.
According to the court document, based on mall surveillance video and witness testimonies gathered after the preliminary hearing, it is consistent with and supports the argument that Coleman, Williams and Jackson were engaged in a showdown that involved both words and the brandishing of firearms that escalated to an exchange of gunfire that caused the death of Giles and injury to three other victims.
Furthermore, Alabama law allows for a defendant to request a pre-trial immunity hearing where a defendant would be required to show by a preponderance of the evidence that their actions were justified. Based on the evidence submitted thus far in the case, King’s request for the court to weigh a self-defense argument with only a probable cause standard would be in conflict with Alabama’s self-defense law, documents read.
Based on the new evidence and evidence already submitted in the preliminary hearing, the state requests that the court deny the defendant’s motion to reopen the preliminary hearing and/or supplement the record.
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