Day 1 Of Kerrick Trial Testimony Comes To A Close
Update 5:30 p.m.
The first day of opening arguments and testimony is over in the Randall Kerrick trial. The defense and prosecution spent a great deal of the day cross-examining key witnesses.
Kerrick, a former CMPD officer is on trial for voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell.
Shooting victim Jonathan Ferrell had been in an early-morning accident on Sept. 14, 2013, and walked to a nearby home, police believe to seek help. He knocked on the door of the home of Sarah McCartney, who said she saw the top of Ferrell’s head and thought it might be her husband who works the night shift as a nurse.
“I decided to open the door and the dog was barking…I looked out and saw it was not my husband and I shut the door,” she said. “I shut and locked it quickly and went back to get my cell phone and called 911."
McCartney described Ferrell’s clothes and said “he looked angry. … I was terrified and worried about my child.”
She said she did not hear Ferrell say he was hurt or that he needed help, even though prosecutors presented statements she made earlier saying Ferrell yelled for her to turn her alarm off and to come back. She denied remembering him asking her to come back to the door.
McCartney told the court that her front yard was well lit, that Ferrell never entered her home but that he paced along her walkway for a few minutes and continued banging on her door after she would not let him in. She said she called her alarm company. A tape of that conversation was played in court along with the 911 recording.
Another key witness who testified earlier in the day was Max Funderburke, the co-worker who Ferrell gave a ride home after getting together with other colleagues at a restaurant near Northlake Mall. He and other co-workers said it was the first time Ferrell had gone out with them after work, but they did socialize at his home with his fiancé.
Funderburke disputed statements made by the defense that the reason Ferrell gave him a ride home was so the two could smoke marijuana. He said they did not discuss that on the ride home or at the restaurant. Funderburke testified that after watching sports on television, he and Ferrell smoked half of a joint in his family’s garage.
In cross-examination, he admitted that they probably discussed smoking at the restaurant, denied remembering stating earlier during the investigation that it was Ferrell’s idea to smoke and said Ferrell smoked but he did not know if he inhaled.
In other testimony, Ferrell’s finance, Cache Heidel, a local CPA, said she and Ferrell only smoked twice in college and only drank a couple of times a week. She described Ferrell as a mild-mannered person. The defense pointed out that the two had argued the day he was killed, but Heidel told the court that she was usually the aggressor in arguments and that Ferrell was always calm.
The defense also brought up Ferrell’s not completing his college degree or following up on other career plans. Cache said she paid their rent and other bills because he was saving his money to return to school.
Cache became emotional when she told the court that because of their argument, she did not tell him she loved him before she went to work. The next morning, she said police showed up at her door, telling her that Ferrell had been killed.
Update: 12:45 p.m.
The prosecution and defense in the Randall Kerrick trial laid out their opening statements this morning. Kerrick, a former CMPD officer is on trial for voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell. Ferrell, a 24-year-old African-American, was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
The prosecution, represented by Adren Harris, gave a somber opening statement, painting Ferrell as someone who was hanging out with friends, had a couple of beers and contrary to earlier reports, smoked weed at the home of a friend he worked with and gave a ride home. He told the jury that Ferrell was not familiar with the roads he took home and after having an accident went to the first house he came upon for help. The homeowner called 911, thinking he was a burglar when he knocked on her door.
Harris said Ferrell did not try to force his way into the home, and that when police arrived, he feared for his life because one officer had a Taser pointed at him and Kerrick had his gun drawn. He said Kerrick shot at Ferrell four times, paused, and shot at him eight more times when he was on the ground. Ten bullets struck him overall.
The defense attorney, Michael Greene, said it was proper for Kerrick to have his gun drawn when Ferrell approached because they did not know if Ferrell had a gun or other weapon. Greene added that it was understandable that the homeowner called the police as he demonstrated how loudly he felt Ferrell knocked on the door, leaving a large dent in it.
Although the prosecution said Ferrell was not aggressive when police arrived, Greene said Ferrell charged officers and grabbed Kerrick’s gun. He said evidence will show Kerrick’s DNA on Ferrell’s fingernails.
He described Ferrell as not being confused or having a concussion from the accident, and brought up the differences in the size of Ferrell–6-feet and 220 pounds–and Kerrick, 5-7 and 157 pounds.
Prosecutor Harris reminded the jury that the other two responding officers never fired their guns and refuted the prosecution’s assertion that Ferrell grabbed for Kerrick’s gun. He said this is a case of an officer using excessive force and asked jurors, “Who polices police when they do wrong?” He paused and answered, “You do.”
The trial has been compared to other shootings in the country involving white police officers and unarmed African-American men. Many activists have called these incidents examples of racial profiling. But defense attorney Greene, an African-American, said the case has never been about race but a question of bad choices made by Ferrell in not letting the homeowner whose door he knocked on or the police know when they arrived that he had been in an accident and needed help.
Opening arguments got underway this morning in the voluntary manslaughter trial of former CMPD officer Randall Kerrick in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. WFAE’s Gwendolyn Glenn updates the case during our noon newscast with host David Boraks.