Prosecution, defense give closing arguments in Moody Manor shooting trial

Moody Manor trial defendant Antwaine Jones sits between attorneys during the murder case.
Moody Manor trial defendant Antwaine Jones sits between attorneys during the murder case.

Prosecutors today pieced together the aggravated murder case against Keshawn Jennings and Antwaine Jones, though defense attorneys argued that “the glue” the state is trying to hold those pieces together is not reliable.

Ronnie Wingate, one of two attorneys representing Mr. Jennings, and Larry DiLabbio, one of two attorneys for Mr. Jones, both told the jury in their closing arguments that the state’s key witness, James Moore, lied when he was first interrogated, lied after his arrest, and lied when he agreed to testify against Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones as part of a plea agreement.

The pair are charged with shooting into an apartment at the Moody Manor housing complex Aug. 9, killing 1-year-old Keondra Hooks and wounding her 2-year-old sister, Leondra.

“If you can’t trust the messenger, how can you trust the message?” Mr. Wingate asked the jury.

Moore, who is not on trial, testified last week that he was told that a rival gang member was at the Moody Manor apartments that night and that Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones took guns from his aunt’s apartment and shot into what turned out to be the wrong apartment. Moore said he drove the get-away vehicle – Mr. Jennings’ grandmother’s van – which was seen on surveillance video leaving the complex just before the shooting.

A witness who called 911 said she saw a van in front of her house on Vermont Street at the time of the shooting and then saw two men get into it before it drove off.

Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division for the prosecutor’s office, said in a nearly 90-minute closing argument that the evidence against Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones is clear through extensive surveillance video that shows them, wearing distinctive clothing, coming and going from the complex just before the shooting, through scientific evidence including gunshot residue found on a red T-shirt and black hooded sweatshirt worn that night by Mr. Jennings, by bullet casings from two distinct weapons fired that night, one of which was later found a few blocks from the Moody Manor, and through Moore’s testimony.

“He’s a Manor Boy too. He’s known Keshawn and Antwaine, he told you, for years,” Mr. Lingo said. “He said it was difficult for him to be here. He said, ‘I love them like brothers.’ And yet he still came in here and testified, and I ask you this, why would you come in and admit your participation in something that you didn’t do?”

With his agreement to testify at the trial, Moore agreed to plead to involuntary manslaughter and be sentenced to three years in prison. Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jones faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations later today.