Trial opens for Baltimore men charged with murdering grandson of state delegate

The gunmen ambushed Tyrone Ray outside 7-Eleven in Northeast Baltimore and shot him point-blank two dozen times. The bullets pierced his fingers, elbow, chest, back and groin.

That the 22-year-old died in a barrage of gunfire last year was undisputed, but defense attorneys and prosecutors have disagreed over who pulled the trigger.

On Tuesday, the trial began in Baltimore Circuit Court for two men charged with murdering Ray.

“There’s not going to be one eyewitness,” defense attorney Tyler Mann told the jury. “There’s no physical evidence either.”

Ray was the grandson of of Maryland House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch. His death led Branch to push in Annapolis for more money and programs to curb Baltimore’s street violence.

Police charged two North Baltimore men with the grandson’s killing. Both Raekwon Thornton, 20, and Lamont Kyler, 22, are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and gun charges.

Prosecutors have anchored their case on surveillance footage that shows two men circling the block, sneaking in the alley and approaching Ray. The cameras show Thornton and Kyler, Assistant State’s Attorney Traci Robinson told the jury.

She said police shared the footage publicly and received tips identifying the figures as Thornton and Kyler.

Defense attorneys, however, asked jurors to consider whether such identifications could be trusted.

“They’re not eyewitnesses,” defense attorney John Cox told the jury. “We can cut to the chase and have a five-minute trial.”

Police found Ray fatally shot in the 4200 block of Nicholas Ave. in the city’s Belair-Edison neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Robinson questioned a medical examiner who conducted Ray’s autopsy, as well as a police officer who spoke of coming upon the scene. The 22-year-old had been on crutches when he was gunned down.

“He’s helpless. He can’t run away,” Robinson told the jury. “He falls to the ground and the shots continued.”

tprudente@baltsun.com

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