A Greensboro man not only shot his former friend to death in Winston-Salem nearly two years ago but he also tried to hire someone to kill the man’s girlfriend, who is the main eyewitness to the shooting, a Forsyth County prosecutor said Tuesday in opening statements in Forsyth Superior Court.
William Anthony Brown, 30, of the 1900 block of Sheldon Road in Greensboro is on trial for first-degree murder in the March 10, 2017, shooting death of Jahmil Ismail Al-Amin in the parking lot of a Winston-Salem apartment complex. He is also charged with one count of solicitation of first-degree murder and one count of attempted solicitation of first-degree murder. In addition, Brown is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and discharging a firearm into occupied property.
This is the second time Brown has stood trial for first-degree murder. Last year, a Forsyth County judge declared a mistrial after a jury was hopelessly deadlocked at 9-3. The jury could not come to the necessary unanimous verdict after deliberating eight hours over three days.
As Brown’s second trial started Tuesday, Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Matt Breeding told jurors that Brown and Al-Amin used to be friends, close enough that they visited each other residences. But in fall 2016, the two had a falling out and the friendship ended, he told jurors.
They didn’t talk over the next five months, but Brown sent a Facebook message to a friend of his on the morning of March 10, 2017, saying he was going out to look for Al-Amin.
That night, while waiting for Al-Amin to come back from running some errands, Kayuana Talley was sitting on the arm of a sofa in an apartment, Breeding told the court, and was looking out the window for him. She said she saw a silver Chevrolet Malibu drive slowly by the apartment complex.
The same car returned and backed up between Talley’s car and another car.
Breeding said Talley told police that when Al-Amin came to the front door, someone from the car called him back. He had a brief conversation with the people in the car that appeared to her to be friendly. Then she saw the driver pull out a gun and fire seven to eight times. She recognized the man as Brown, whom she only knew as Skeme, Breeding said.
Bullets pierced Al-Amin’s heart, lungs and bowels, according to prosecutors. Talley, Breeding said, ran out of the apartment and started performing chest compressions on Al-Amin. When a Winston-Salem police officer arrived, she told him that Skeme had shot Al-Amin. Talley later pointed to Brown’s photo on his Facebook page, where he also identified himself as “Bossman Skeme,” Breeding said.
According to the prosecutor, after the shooting, Brown drove back to Greensboro, where he searched for news of the shooting. That morning, he deactivated his cellphone and got a new one, Breeding said.
And nine days later, when questioned by Winston-Salem police, Brown insisted that he had been home in Greensboro at the time of the shooting.
Breeding said that while Brown was awaiting trial at the Forsyth County jail, he slipped a note to another inmate providing information about Talley and saying that a “rat” needed to be taken care of.
He also sent a letter addressed to a Ray Inge Jr., whom Brown alleged was a criminal-defense attorney. But, Breeding said, detention officers found no evidence that Inge was a lawyer licensed to practice in North Carolina or Virginia. And the address was to a house, not a law office, Breeding said.
Jason Crump, Brown’s attorney, said Talley gave inconsistent statements. When she was asked by a 911 dispatcher who shot Al-Amin, she replied that she didn’t know, Crump said. He urged jurors to keep an open mind and to listen to all the evidence.
The trial is expected to take all week and could go into next week.