ADRIAN - The morning of Feb. 9 began as any other day in Marcus Newsom's life, Prosecutor Frank Riley told a Lenawee County jury yesterday, but it ended with the young man slumped behind the wheel of his sister's car - his body riddled with bullets.
Mr. Riley outlined what investigators believe happened earlier this year when a van pulled along side the car Mr. Newsom was driving and three guns opened fire. And behind the wheel of that van with full knowledge of what was to take place was Cordall Neal, Mr. Riley said during his opening statement.
Mr. Neal of Mt. Clemens, Mich., is charged with open murder, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Mr. Newsom was not the intended target, Mr. Riley admitted, and Mr. Neal likely did not pull the triggers. But the 29-year-old defendant was very well aware a murder was going to take place, the prosecutor said.
“He came down [to Adrian] that night with three other people, he knew these three people had guns with them,” he told the 10 men and three women of the jury. “He drove alongside the car so his cousin and his uncle could shoot who they thought was Jamal Bradley, but who was in the car was Marcus Newsom.”
Investigators and family members have said that Mr. Newsom, 20, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mr. Newsom was driving his sister's car that night. Investigators believe that Jamal Bradley - the man his sister had been dating - was the intended target.
In court, Mr. Riley said the defendant had several problems with the intended victim, mainly that he believed Mr. Bradley had stolen several thousand dollars from his grandparents.
He also established that Mr. Neal had called a friend - Mr. Newsom's aunt - to ask if she knew where Mr. Bradley was that night.
Defense Attorney Alvin Sallen told jurors that there was no question a tragedy occurred the night of Feb. 9 and that Mr. Newsom was shot and killed. But he argued that the only crime the evidence will show is that his client is guilty of driving the van away.
“Low and behold, without any warning and without any discussion, the doors were opened and gunshots were fired,” Mr. Sallen said. “There was no discussion at any time that a shooting or a killing would happen.”
Mr. Neal sat straight, dressed in a dark suit, as several law enforcement officers took the stand to tell of how they responded to a call of shots fired and found the bloodied body of Mr. Newsom. Others testified about the arrest of the four men inside the suspected van and the subsequent discovery of three guns - a Mac 10, a 45-caliber revolver, and a 38 revolver - thrown onto the side of the road.
Mr. Newsom's aunt, Carolyn McMillian, testified that she spoke to Mr. Neal the night after the shooting, when he told her the wrong man had been shot. She said the defendant cried on the phone and told her he was sorry.
“He told me it wasn't meant for Marcus,” she said, before the judge ordered a break so she could compose herself. “He told me he wouldn't do anything to hurt him.”
The trial will continue with more prosecution witnesses at 9 a.m. today.