After closing arguments Wednesday, a Forsyth County jury has to decide whom to believe — a Greensboro man who vehemently denies killing a Winston-Salem man more than two years ago or the victim’s girlfriend who is the main eyewitness to the shooting.
William Anthony Brown, 30, is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Jahmil Ismail Al-Amin, 25, on March 10, 2017, as well as other related charges. Those include allegations that he sought to hire someone to kill Kayuana Talley, Al-Amin’s girlfriend, while Brown was in the Forsyth County Jail awaiting trial.
Assistant District Attorney Morgan Reece said Brown made a series of choices that made it clear that the shooting was a premeditated act.
Brown sent a message on Facebook in which he told a cousin that he was going out later that night and to keep a lookout for Al-Amin, who was also known as Morpheus Mills. Less than 12 hours later, Reece said, Brown traveled to Winston-Salem, fatally shot Al-Amin and then returned to Greensboro, where he searched on Google for news of the shooting. Then the next day, he deactivated his cellphone, she and Assistant District Attorney Matt Breeding said in closing arguments.
And when he talked to Winston-Salem police, Brown lied and told police that he wasn’t even in Winston-Salem at the time of the shooting, even though cellphone data showed that his cellphone was pinging off a cell tower that provided service to the apartment complex where Al-Amin was shot to death, they said.
Brown changed his story when he took the stand this week, Reece and Breeding said. Instead of saying that he was Greensboro at the time of shooting, he told jurors that he was in Winston-Salem but that he was nowhere near the apartment complex, Bethabara Pointe Circle.
But Talley was always consistent that Brown, whom she knew only as Skeme, was the one who shot her boyfriend, Reece said.
Talley is shown on body-camera footage telling Winston-Salem police officers that Brown was the shooter and pulling up Brown’s Facebook profile and showing officers Brown’s picture, Reece said.
“I know in the bottom of my heart that it was Skeme,” Talley said, according to Reece. “I seen his face.”
But Jason Crump, Brown’s attorney, argued that Talley was not truthful in what she told police or in her testimony. He pointed out what he claimed were serious inconsistencies in the statements she made.
For instance, Talley said she didn’t know who shot Al-Amin when asked by a 911 dispatcher. Reece countered that immediately after that answer, she noted that her boyfriend was not moving. And about 20 seconds after that exchange, Talley is heard screaming to officers that “Skeme” was the shooter, Reece said.
Crump said Talley never told police that she was looking at Facebook on her phone while she was in the apartment waiting for Al-Amin to return. She only mentioned that detail when she was on the stand last week, Crump said. And Talley admitted that she had been smoking marijuana all day on March 10, 2017.
Crump also said even with the lighting in the parking lot, it was too dark for Talley to see what she claimed she saw.
Breeding, however, said there is no reason for Talley to lie. For her to lie, she would have had to been something akin to Lex Luther, the fictional villain to the superhero Superman, Breeding said. Talley would have had to anticipate that all the events that led to her boyfriend’s shooting and predict where Al-Amin would be when he was shot in order for jurors to believe she was trying to frame Brown for the murder, he said.
He also argued that there’s enough evidence, without Talley, to prove that Brown killed Al-Amin, referencing Brown’s own alleged conduct before and after the shooting and cellphone records.
Breeding said the note Brown had tried to pass to another inmate is plainly an attempt to hire someone to kill Talley.
And the letter that detention officers intercepted that was addressed to a man named Ray Inge Jr. also contains clear language that Brown wanted Talley dead, he said.
He noted that Brown tried to explain away the language as gang code.
“If that’s true, then the Bloods seriously need to rethink their gang code,” Breeding said.
Breeding said Brown wrote that a “rat needed to be taken care of” and that some of the correspondence had specific details about where Talley lived and worked.
The jury deliberated for a little more than an hour late Wednesday and will resume deliberations this morning. If Brown is convicted of first-degree murder, he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.