Kayuana Talley was sitting on the arm of a sofa on March 10, 2017, looking out an apartment window when she saw William Anthony Brown fatally shoot her boyfriend of nearly three years, Jahmil Ismail Al-Amin, she testified Wednesday in Forsyth Superior Court.
At the time, Talley told the court, she didn’t know Brown’s real name. She knew him as “Skeme.” Al-Amin had introduced her to him in June 2016.
Three months later, she told the court, the two men had a falling out after Brown allegedy robbed one of Jahmil’s friends. She said they hadn’t talked in months until Brown drove up to the apartment complex just before 10 p.m. on March 10, 2017.
Brown, 29, of Greensboro, is now on trial for first-degree murder of Al-Amin, who was 25. If convicted, he will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Forsyth County prosecutors began presenting evidence Wednesday after finishing jury selection Tuesday. Talley was their second witness.
In opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Morgan Reece described Al-Amin’s death as a senseless gang killing.
Talley testified Wednesday that Al-Amin and Brown were members of different sects of the Bounty Hunter Bloods. She also testified that both men did “licks,” or robberies, together. At least two times, she was with Brown and Al-Amin when they committed the crimes, she said, adding that they used her car.
Talley said that on March 10, 2017, she, Al-Amin and others were gathered upstairs in the two-story apartment at 703 Bethabara Pointe Circle, where they lived with one of Al-Amin’s friends. Talley said she watched the others while they played video games. She was also monitoring the chicken and rice she was cooking in the downstairs kitchen.
Talley said in court that Al-Amin’s friend, known as K.D., asked Al-Amin to sell marijuana to someone in the apartment complex. Al-Amin also was going to what was known as the “Candy House,” a place in the apartment complex where canned soda and other items were sold. He was planning to get a cigarette.
Talley said she went downstairs at the same time as Al-Amin was leaving to check on the food she was cooking.
After about 10 minutes, she started getting a bad feeling because Al-Amin was gone too long, she testified. She went to the living room and sat on the arm of a couch.
Even though it was dark outside, overhead street lamps illuminated the parking lot, she said. Talley said she saw a silver-colored, four-door sedan first come northwest past the apartment, moving slowly. Talley said she couldn’t see anyone inside the car. A few minutes later, she saw Al-Amin walking up to the apartment. He was at the apartment’s front door when the same car came back down the other way past the apartment.
The car backed up and stopped between two cars. Someone in the car called out, using what Talley described as some kind of gang greeting. Al-Amin went to the car and had a brief exchange with the driver, whom Talley said she recognized as Brown, or “Skeme.”
Talley said she then saw Brown pull out a gun. Al-Amin tried to turn and run, but Brown fired eight times. Al-Amin immediately fell to the ground, Talley said.
Reece said Talley was adamant in her statements to Winston-Salem police officers who responded that Brown was the shooter. Talley testified that she had met with Brown 10 to 15 times either in Greensboro or Winston-Salem.
Jason Crump, Brown’s attorney, got Talley to acknowledge certain statements she made that indicated she wasn’t as sure who the shooter was. Talley agreed that she did tell the 911 dispatcher that she did not know who shot Al-Amin.
Crump also referred to phone calls she made while she was in an interview room at the Winston-Salem Police Department that were recorded. Crump got Talley to acknowledge that she did make statements such as, “I believe it was this guy named Skeme.”
Talley said she also pulled up Brown’s Facebook profile picture and showed it to a police officer. On Facebook, Brown referred to himself as “Bossman Skeme.”
Reece said in her opening statements that Brown denied to Winston-Salem police detectives that he was even in Winston-Salem at the time of the fatal shooting. But according to data from Brown’s cellphone, calls made on the night of March 10, 2017, indicate that he was in Winston-Salem when Al-Amin was shot, Reece said.
In fact, one of his cellphone calls pinged off a tower near the apartment complex about the time Al-Amin was shot, she said.
Reece also said that while he was being held in the Forsyth County jail after he was charged with Al-Amin’s murder, he referred to Talley as a “rat” and tried to make arrangements to have her killed to keep her from testifying. According to search warrants in the case, an inmate told jail officials that Brown had tried to get him to kill Talley.
In another instance, jail officials told Winston-Salem police that they had recovered a handwritten note from Brown to another man requesting that the man kill Talley, the search warrants allege.
In his opening statements, Crump said he was not going to argue that Brown was not in Winston-Salem on the night of the fatal shooting. He said he was going to argue that there is information that can help jurors understand why Brown might give that statement, even if it wasn’t true. Crump did not provide any other details on that point.
He also urged jurors to keep an open mind and to weigh the credibility of the witnesses who testify.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.