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Fatal-shooting case in jury's hands

Monday, October 7, 2013
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— A Schenectady County Court jury Tuesday morning is to begin deliberating the fate of a Brooklyn man accused in a deadly shooting outside a Mont Pleasant bar.

The jury heard closing arguments in the case Monday, after about two weeks of testimony.

Prosecutor Amy Monahan told the jury the evidence points directly at defendant Rodney Davis, while Davis’ attorney, Mark Gaylord, argued evidence indicates someone else did the shooting.

The case involves the Nov. 12, 2011, killing of 23-year-old Rashad Robinson outside Joe’s Bar at 1306 Fifth Ave. Davis is accused of shooting and killing the unarmed man at close range and trying to kill two others, but only wounding them.

The shooting, Monahan said, was the result of an argument that started inside the bar and spilled outside.

Monahan cited several witnesses who testified they either saw Davis open fire or gave information consistent with him being the shooter. She also cited jailhouse phone calls in which, she said, he made comments an innocent man wouldn’t have made, and noted he left town hours after the shooting, planning never to return.

This and other evidence, she told the jury, “just points in one direction, that the defendant’s guilty.”

In his own closing argument, Gaylord countered that testimony didn’t point to his client, but another suspect. He said at least one witness described the shooter as being right-handed, but Davis is left-handed.

Gaylord also questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.

“It’s not the quantity of witnesses that counts, it’s the quality of testimony,” he said. “Five shaky identification witnesses do not equal one solid identification witness.”

Monahan responded to the right-handed/left-handed argument by questioning the proof that Davis is left-handed, or that the witness’ detail was incorrect. Regardless, she said, there was nothing to the suggestion.

Monahan said that Davis was the “enforcer” for a group of friends from Brooklyn, that he was handed a gun and that he opened fire, hitting Robinson from almost point-blank range. He then fired on two other men, after pausing first to unjam his gun.

The two others, Nick Coons and George Lloyd, were wounded but survived.

Davis faces one count of second-degree murder, three counts of second-degree attempted murder and one count of first-degree assault, along with other assault and weapons charges.

Monahan told jurors the shooting had roots in a minor argument that began inside the bar, but also in a brewing feud between Davis’ group of friends from Brooklyn and Robinson’s group from Schenectady. She also identified Davis as a member of the Bloods street gang.

The case also has connections to two later shootings.

Robinson’s brother is serving prison time for shooting a man he believed was connected to his brother’s killing. And Lloyd, after surviving the Joe’s Bar shooting, was shot and killed not even a year later outside The Mason’s Club in Schenectady. That killing remains unsolved.

Davis wasn’t arrested until the summer of 2012, when authorities found him in Baltimore. Davis at that point gave a statement that Monahan tried to pick apart for jurors.

Among Davis’ assertions was that he had left the bar and was home more than an hour before the shooting took place. Photos from a DJ, who was taking pictures that night for extra cash, proved he was there. In one photo, taken just 26 minutes before Robinson was shot, Davis was shown with two women inside the bar, Davis making a gun motion with his hand.

Monahan highlighted that photo, keeping it on the screen throughout her closings.

Presiding over the case is acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino. Davis remains in custody.

 
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