By Tim Yovich
The defense attorney said the victim deserved to be shot.
WARREN — Airiz Coleman admits he shot and wounded a rival for a woman’s affection in self-defense, his lawyer says.
Coleman, 31, is on trial in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on charges of felonious assault with a gun specification, tampering with evidence, improper use of a firearm in a motor vehicle and discharging a firearm in an occupied structure with a gun specification.
He is accused of opening fire Nov. 14, 2006, at Anthony Dukes, 19, outside of Dukes’ Brier Street home. Dukes recovered from a chest wound.
During opening statements Tuesday, Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor, told the jury that Dukes had a son by Raan Battee. Coleman fell in love with Battee and cared and supported for the boy while Dukes was in prison on a weapons conviction.
The prosecutor told the jury that Dukes; his mother, Shavon Evans; and his brother, Andre Freeman; were on the front porch of the Brier house when Coleman drove up in his sports utility vehicle and fired a shot, the bullet striking Dukes in the chest. Coleman then drove down the street, turned his SUV around, drove past the house and fired a second shot, the bullet going into the house.
“Coleman shot him,” Becker said Dukes told police when they arrived.
Becker told the jurors that defense attorney Jeffrey Goodman will attempt to convince them that Dukes had a gun and Coleman fired in self-defense.
However, Becker said tests showed gunpowder residue on Coleman’s hand, not on Dukes’ hand.
“Yes, Anthony Dukes deserved to get shot,” Goodman told the jury.
Goodman contended that Dukes was “a violent criminal” who took offense to Coleman placing himself in the role of the child’s father. Coleman was intimidated and threatened by Dukes, he added.
Coleman felt so threatened that he sought the advice of police and a judge and bought a gun with a conceal-carry permit.
Goodman said a Brier Street resident will testify that as Coleman drove past the house, Dukes ran off the porch, stopped Coleman in his SUV and pulled a gun, but Coleman fired first and drove off.
The neighbor will testify that Dukes’ mother retrieved his son’s gun from him and ran with it to the back of the house before police arrived.
Although police retrieved Coleman’s gun, it can’t be introduced as evidence because it was suppressed by Judge McKay, partially because of a conflict of interest involving Nick Graham, an assistant city law director and a city prosecutor, who told Coleman after the shooting to file a report with police. Police also took a statement from Coleman, a portion of which was also suppressed.
The judge ruled that Graham knew or should have known that Coleman was in custody.
The trial will resume Thursday.