Day two of the first-degree murder trial was a full day of testimony on the witness stand. The trial continues Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Burlington.
Ceaser Davison's attorney aggressively questioned Davison's alleged co-conspirator Andre Harris over whether he lied to obtain a plea deal to avoid life in prison during the second day of the first-degree murder trial at the Des Moines County courthouse in Burlington.
Davison and Harris are two men who allegedly took part in the Sept. 10, 2017, murder of DeMarcus "Peanut" Chew.
"So there was one person who did not participate in the murder and did not encourage the murder, and that was you, right?" asked John Rigg, attorney for Davison.
Harris indicated that this was correct.
Davison, who is charged with first-degree murder, has been accused of being the man who shot and killed Chew. Harris was initially charged with first-degree murder however he was allowed to plea guilty to lesser charges. Harris has claimed, and his claims were supported by co-conspirator Antoine Spann, that he did not know the murder was planned until after it happened.
It is alleged Davison, along with four others, spotted Chew and decided to kill him in an attempt to collect money from a hit that was placed on him by A.J. Smith. The group was supposed to collect $10,000 but instead only collected $1,000 and a pound of methamphetamine.
Harris, Antoine Spann and Derrick Parker pleaded guilty to various charges related to Chew's death and were sentenced to between 15 and 20 years in prison. Emmanuel Spann, who faced the same charges Davison currently faces, was convicted of first-degree murder and will be sentenced to life in prison in the coming weeks.
According to testimony, four people were seated in one car together. These four people were, allegedly, Davison, Harris, Antoine Spann and Emmanuel Spann. Harris testified that Antoine Spann drove the car, Davison shot Chew and Emmanuel Spann got out of the car with Davison when the shooting happened. Emmanuel Spann also hid the gun after the shooting. Rigg pointed out Harris did not see or hear the shots and therefore did not know who the shooter actually was. Harris said Davison had indicated he had been the shooter after Davison and Emmanuel Spann got back into the car.
According to Harris, he was the only person who did not actively participate in the killing and said he did not encourage the event. Iowa law says a person is only guilty of a crime if they themselves committed the crime or if they actively participated in, or encouraged, the crime.
"If you knew you were not guilty, why would you plead guilty?" Rigg asked
Harris said he only pleaded guilty to crimes because he did not want to go to trial and be sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not play a major role in committing.
Harris testified he was told by Antoine Spann during a private call the two had while Harris was free and Antoine Spann was in jail to lie and say Emmanuel Spann shot Chew.This call was not recorded as the call happened using the phone of Antoine Spann's attorney and the law forbids calls between defendants and attorneys from being recorded.
Harris said he did not think lying about who committed the crime was the right thing to do.
"If you were going to frame someone, why not frame Derrick Parker. After all, you said he was the one you knew least," Rigg asked Harris.
Harris said he did not lie because he wanted to tell the truth.
In his plea agreement, Harris agreed to receive 20 years in prison however Judge John Wright, who is also the judge in the Davison case, sentenced Harris to 15 years instead. At the time, Wright cited Harris' age and his children as a reason to not give him the full 20 years.
In addition to attacks on Harris' plea deal, Rigg also questioned the state's attempt to have Harris identify people in a surveillance video.
The video, which is from Expose Nightclub in Gulfport, Illinois, where the five men allegedly spotted Chew and hatched the plot to kill him, has not been officially introduced to jurors. Rigg argued showing a still image from the video without proper context is out of bounds.
"If there is no context, the image still cannot be published," Rigg argued.
Judge Wright said he does not believe context needs to be given before a still photograph can be shown to the jurors in this case as the still image is from a video which will be introduced later.
Court will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The court will first hear from the medical examiners who conducted Chews autopsy as well as from Antoine Spann and watch the surveillance video from Expose Nightclub.