MANATEE — Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith declined several motions for a mistrial made Thursday by attorneys for 17-year-old Byron Galloway, who stands accused of gunning down a star athlete and Bayshore High School graduate last year.
Defense attorneys Chris Pratt and Mark Lipinski claimed there was a discovery violation, arguing in court just before noon that they never received documents from a case file, including notes and a firearm worksheet from a firearms expert at Florida Department of Law Enforcement who testified in court Thursday morning.
“We would have wanted our own arms expert to look at the gun,” said Lipinski, referencing a .22-caliber handgun Galloway used to shoot 18-year-old Dejuan Williams in the chest on Aug. 4, 2009. Williams died shortly after.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not receive the documents from the case file until the analyst showed up to testify Thursday morning. Attorneys did receive two pages showing the results prior to the trial.
Bruce Lee, assistant state attorney, argued the case file contains only notes that are not subject to discovery.
He also said the defense knew of the analyst and received final results before the trial.
“There was no discovery violation in that sense,” Lee said.
In March, Galloway sent a letter from the jail stating he would have killed Williams’ three friends, too, had the gun not jammed that night.
Khara Tallman, a FDLE crime lab analyst, confirmed what Galloway said about the gun in the letter by testifying the gun worked intermittently after she performed 10 test shots. One shot misfired, meaning the hammer activated and a bullet did not discharge from the barrel.
Lee argued even if the defense brought in an independent expert to state the gun worked properly, it would contradict what Galloway stated in the letter.
Galloway’s attorneys also argued prosecutors failed to prove the elements for second-degree murder and suggested the charge be downgraded to manslaughter.
Smith rejected the motion and stated, “There are facts that need to be decided by the jury.”
The small handgun Galloway used to shoot and kill Williams was wiped down and thrown into a ditch within an hour of the shooting, according to testimony in the trial Thursday morning.
Galloway, who was 16 at the time, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Williams. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, if convicted.
Galloway was visiting Williams’ younger sister, Jamaetra Washington, 15, and shot Williams when he was confronted in the backyard the night of Aug. 4, 2009, Manatee sheriff deputies said.
Washington is not allowed to have boys over when she is home alone, according to household rules. Williams learned she had two boys – including Galloway — over with another girlfriend.
Williams returned home with a few friends and Galloway and the other boy fled the house through a window. Galloway was found by one of Williams’ friends hiding behind the shed in the backyard.
Williams confronted Galloway with a baseball bat in the backyard, asking what he was doing in his house.
Galloway first apologized before brandishing a .22 caliber handgun and shooting Williams.
Defense attorneys for Galloway argue he acted in self defense.
Friends placed Williams on top of his car. He died shortly after.
Chaos unfolded as Galloway fled to the front of the house and called his best friend and cousin, Adrian Richard, to pick him up.
On the stand Thursday morning, Richard told the court Galloway sounded normal. He didn’t seem upset, he said. Richard, now 18, picked up Galloway in a white Chevy Malibu that night.
They also picked up Galloway’s friend nearby who was with him earlier, but had jumped over a fence when Williams came home.
Galloway gave Richard the gun.
“Hold this for me,” Galloway said to Richard, according to testimony.
Richard didn’t hold it for long though. Within 45 minutes, he wiped the gun down and tossed it in a ditch across the street from his house.
“I didn’t want my fingerprints on it,” he told the court.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Task Force Sgt. Kevin Pease located the gun in a ditch.
“Down there I found a dish towel that had the firearm wrapped in it,” Pease told the court.
The trial is expected to continue today.