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News Maryland Harford County Abingdon

Man wounded in fatal Edgewood shooting testifies he couldn't ID assailant

A 19-year-old man, who was wounded in a January 2013 shooting during a marijuana buy in Edgewood that killed a companion, testified in Harford County Circuit Court Wednesday that he could not positively identify the shooter.

Christopher Cousins, of the 1900 block of Harwood Road in Edgewood, took the witness stand on the third day of testimony in the trial of Garfield Smith III, who is accused of the fatal shooting.

Smith, 22, of the 1600 block of Candlewood Road in Edgewood, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and six firearm charges from the Jan. 31, 2013 incident that left 17-year old Michael Kearins dead and Cousins suffering from four bullet wounds.

Harford Circuit Judge Stephen Waldon is presiding over the jury trial.

Assistant State's Attorney David Ryden asked Cousins to recount the events of the deadly evening.

Cousins, dressed in a white dress shirt, tie and black dress slacks, said he did not get a good look at the person who shot him and Mr. Kearins, whom Cousins called his "best friend."

According to Cousins, he and Kearins met up with a mutual friend, Jevontay Singleton, 18, and entered Cunion Park in Edgewood around 10:30 p.m. to buy marijuana.

Cousins said the trio was supposed to meet with a friend of Singleton's to purchase a dime bag, or $10 worth, of marijuana. He said he spotted two people walking across the field toward them and told Singleton, "I think those are your friends."

Singleton walked up to the two men and said "what's up," while he and Kearins stood about two to five feet behind, Cousins said during his testimony.

Cousins said one of the men said, "Who is you? I don't even know you," and pulled out a gun and starting shooting, hitting Mr. Kearins twice and Cousins four times.

Cousins said he rolled over to check on Mr. Kearins, who he said was barely moving. He said he kept shaking Mr. Kearins "trying to keep him with me."

Cousins said he looked up and saw Singleton had run off with the shooter and the other man. He said he then called 911 on his phone.

After he was operated on for his wounds at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Cousins said police investigators showed him a group of photos to see if he could positively identify the shooter or anyone else involved.

"When I was presented with the photos there was one what kind of made my head spin for some reason," Cousins testified. He said he could not tell 100 percent if that person was the shooter because he only saw him for less than two minutes.

Ryden asked Cousins to lift up his shirt and show the 12 jurors, and two alternates, two of the four bullet wounds he sustained during the Jan. 31 shooting.

Cousins said he was shot in the left arm, abdomen, right thigh and buttocks. He said one bullet is still lodged in his left side.

Under cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Howard Greenberg, one of Smith's lawyers, asked Cousins if he had told police officers that Singleton was the shooter.

Greenberg read from police reports stating that Cousins repeatedly yelled "Jevontay" or "Tay," Singleton's nickname in the ambulance, while he was waiting to be flown by Medevac to shock trauma.

Cousins said he knew one of the officers, who patrolled the alternative high school he attended in Aberdeen. According to Cousins, Singleton, who testified in the trial Monday, also attended the school, so the officer should have known the name.

"I told them Jevontay was there," Cousins said. "I never told them Jevontay was the shooter... I'm not sure what I said, I was gasping for air."

Mini-showdown

During a brief recess, Greenberg was heard to comment, "I mean who wears sunglasses in a courtroom?" in reference to a man seated in the gallery wearing glasses with very dark lenses.

"They are prescription," replied the man, who appeared to be some sort of associate of Cousins.

The man quickly stood and pulled off the glasses. "You want to try them on," he asked the defense lawyer.

A court security officer walked over to the man and whispered in his ear.

The officer then told Greenberg the glasses were prescription.

Detective reveals evidence

Det. Jan P. Ryan, of the Harford County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Unit, testified Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

During cross-examination Thursday, Greenberg questioned Ryan about several items recovered during the investigation from the Candlewood Court address, where Smith lives.

Greenberg asked Ryan what kind of evidence detectives were looking for in the home.

Ryan said he was instructed to look for the handgun allegedly used in the shooting, dark colored clothing and shoes with mud on them, which would be consistent with the mud found on the field at Cunion Park the night of the shooting.

Ryan said he found a black jacket, two baseball caps and shoes. He said the black jacket and shoes, which contained mud, were taken into evidence; no handgun was found at the residence, he testified.

Greenberg also asked Ryan to describe the furniture in the residence and asked him if it looked lived in.

The detective said it was a two-story home with a two bedrooms and a small attic crawl space.

"It looked inhabitable, but it was extremely sparse," he said.

Ryan said mattresses were on the floor in both bedrooms, but little clothing.

The refrigerator had a little food in it and there was some evidence of food left in the kitchen, Ryan said. He said the residence had little furniture, no kitchen table.

Prosecutors said they plan to question James E. Bryant Jr., of the 800 block Clover Leaf Court in Edgewood, who led detectives to the gun allegedly used in the shootings of Cousins and Mr. Kearins.

A ballistics expert also is expected to testify as part of the state's case. The trial will continue Friday and into the middle of next week.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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