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Published: Wednesday, 3/23/2005

Woman says she saw neighbor with weapon

A woman testified yesterday that she saw Lamonte Hopings with a shotgun inside her Old West End duplex just moments before Robert Badgett was shot and killed outside the home.

Testifying in Hopings' aggravated murder trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Melissa Sutton said she was on the landing on the stairs going up to her home when she saw Hopings leave with the shotgun.

"His back was turned to me, but I could see the long part of the [gun]. I just froze," she told the jury.

After the shotgun was fired, Ms. Sutton said her boyfriend came and took her from the landing to their upstairs unit, where she looked out a window and saw the bloody victim on the sidewalk in front of the steps.

Hopings, 28, of 1110 Coventry Ave., is accused in the May 19 shooting death of Badgett. The trial began Monday in the courtroom of Judge Ruth Ann Franks.

Ms. Sutton's 15-year-old son, Rodshode Sutton, who was the victim's nephew, testified earlier that Hopings shot Badgett during a dispute outside the home at 3103 Parkwood Ave.

Rodshode was upset about a burglary that occurred at their home several hours before the shooting. He later exchanged words about the incident with Hopings and others, including Hopings' mother, who lived in the lower unit.

Ms. Sutton said she demanded that her son apologize to the family members. She said Rodshode did apologize, but then went to his uncle's nearby home at 554 West Central Ave. and told him about the incident.

The jury also heard from Badgett's widow, Monique Badgett, who testified that her husband left about 8 p.m. for his nephew's home to discuss the situation.

She broke down in tears as she recounted how Rodshode came to her home a short time later and said her husband had been shot. She went to the duplex on Parkwood and saw her dying husband on the sidewalk.

Prosecutors are expected to call their final witnesses today.

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