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Witness: Woman was not a target

February 28, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - The bullet that killed Trisiviah Rodriguez on July 31, 2006, was meant for men known as Izzy and Poker, a witness testified Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court.

The testimony came during the second day of the trial for Demetrius "Meach" Pierre McDaniels, who is charged with first-degree felony murder, first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the 20-year-old woman's death.

Courtney Smith, 15, testified that she was sitting with friends she called Izzy and Poker on an East Franklin Street porch, and that Rodriguez was with them.

Two men walked by a few times before pointing guns at Izzy and Poker, the girl testified.

She said she ran into an apartment building when shots were fired. She couldn't remember if both men were shooting, but she thought they both were, she testified.

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She said she had been smoking marijuana and had taken Ecstasy pills that night, which affected her memory. She also has a medical condition that makes it hard to remember things, she testified.

Rodriguez was running behind her, but she never made it into the building, the girl said.

She cried as she testified that she saw Rodriguez a few minutes later, "laying right there with blood coming out of her head."

A man who pleaded guilty in early February to attempted first-degree murder in Rodriguez's death also took the stand Tuesday. Raheen Tajohn Edwin's plea bargain stipulated that he testify in McDaniels' trial.

Edwin, 31, and McDaniels, 28, were walking along East Franklin Street that night, Edwin testified. They each had a gun, both of which belonged to a man who was in a car parked in a nearby alley, Edwin said.

He and McDaniels were looking for someone, but he didn't know what the person's name was and he had never seen the person before, Edwin testified.

'I emptied the gun'

They "bumped into" two people, one of whom was Poker, and had a "minor confrontation" that led to "something bigger," Edwin testified.

Edwin and McDaniels drew their guns, intending to rob the two men, Edwin said. The men emptied their pockets, but nothing was taken from them, Edwin testified. Edwin turned around and saw the taller of the two men bending down "like he was reaching for something," Edwin said. That's when shots were fired, he testified.

"Me being nervous and drunk, I started firing," Edwin said. "I emptied the gun."

He could also hear McDaniels shooting, but he didn't know how many shots McDaniels fired, Edwin testified. They started running to the car in the alley, but slowed down when Edwin remembered that there is a surveillance camera system in downtown Hagerstown, he said.

McDaniels jumped into the car and Edwin shoved his revolver into the back seat, but he continued walking, he testified. Police were going to be after the car, so he wanted to sneak off, Edwin said.

Daynard Johnson testified that he was driving the car. Johnson said he didn't see anyone with guns, but he did hear shots behind him. He turned around to see McDaniels get in the car, but Edwin did not, Johnson testified.

Johnson is in prison for a parole violation in connection with the case. He was charged as an accessory after the fact, and the charges were dismissed in exchange for his testimony, he said.

Jatisah Green, 14, testified that she was walking on Franklin Street with a friend that night when she heard gunshots and saw two men she recognized running up the street. She identified McDaniels as the man she heard say, "'I missed whoever I was trying to shoot at.'"

Jason Bucks, aka Poker, testified that men attempted to rob him on East Franklin Street that night, but they didn't take anything. He couldn't remember if the robbers used a knife or a gun, and he couldn't remember who the robbers were, Bucks testified.

He left the area before the shooting began, Bucks testified.

"I don't know nothing," he said.

Bucks is serving 10 years at the Maryland Correctional Institute at Jessup for distribution of cocaine, he said Tuesday.

The trial, which is expected to conclude this week, resumes this morning.

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