Prosecution rests case in ‘gangland’ slayings

Jurors see autopsy photos of 3 people Ali E. Davis is accused of killing in Easton apartment.

Riley Yates (THE MORNING CALL)
January 23, 2010

Alphe Rene had six gunshot wounds. To the back of his head. To his torso. To both thighs.

Chanel Armour was shot twice. In the temple. In the chest.

Four bullets were fired into Aleah Hamlin. One to her forehead. Three to her chest.

On Friday, jurors saw autopsy photos of the three people Ali E. Davis is accused of killing execution-style in November 2007 in a room of an Easton apartment.

Davis, 22, of Freemansburg could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in slayings that Northampton County prosecutors have labeled a ”gangland hit.”

After 127 exhibits and roughly 20 witnesses, First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck rested his case. Davis’ defense team will present testimony Monday, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations later that day.

The autopsy photos represented the second time jurors were shown pictures of the dead bodies. As with earlier crime scene photos, they were displayed over the objections of defense attorney Brian Monahan, who argued they were prejudicial.

Forensic pathologist Samuel Land said Hamlin, 19, may have put her arm up in a defensive motion before she was killed. Another pathologist, Barbara Bollinger, said the wounds of 23-year-old Armour were consistent with someone standing over her and firing down.

Prosecutors say Davis, a Bloods gang member, committed the slayings with three others after picking them up in New Jersey and driving them to the West Ward home at 128 N. 13th St. The Nov. 29, 2007, shootings were in retaliation for two gang killings days before in the Garden State, prosecutors contend.

Houck has said Rene, 20, was targeted, Armour ”knew too much” and Hamlin was ”in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Another man the group was after, Lakimdel Spring, 23, escaped through a window, according to testimony.

Monahan has said Davis doesn’t dispute he drove the car from Newark, N.J., to Easton and back. But Monahan says Davis did not participate in the shootings.

Monahan said he may call ”one or two witnesses” for the defense. He has told Judge Stephen Baratta he is discussing with Davis whether he’ll testify.

Friday’s proceedings also featured two taped interviews Davis gave police. In one, Davis says he was at home on the night of the murders, got a phone call about what happened and drove to the scene.

About 21/2 hours after the shootings, Easton police Inspector Matthew Gerould testified, he saw Davis at N. 13th and Spring Garden streets.

The second interview was conducted after Davis’ arrest. In it, Gerould confronts Davis with some of the evidence against him: toll booth and cell phone records showing he drove from New Jersey to Easton before the murders and back to New Jersey afterward. In the interview, Davis said he had nothing to say to Gerould.

Later, while waiting to be booked on the charges, Davis asked: ”What if I told you I just drove them? What would I get?” Gerould said on the stand.

Two witnesses have placed a .380-caliber Hi-Point gun in Davis’ hands just before and just after the murders. Five of nine bullet casings recovered at the scene were from a .380 Hi-Point, police said.

Co-defendant Lewis A. Gray, 33, of East Orange, N.J., also faces capital murder charges in the slayings but is being tried separately.

The other men have been named in court as Olayiwola ”T-Bone” Hollist and Demar ”G-Red” Edwards, but they have not been charged.

Davis, a former Liberty High School basketball player, is also accused of a fourth shooting death in May 2007 on Easton’s South Side. In that case, he is charged with gunning down a New York man near the Delaware Terrace housing development. That trial is expected this spring.

riley.yates@mcall.com

610-253-5751

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