Jury hears defense witness, closing arguments in Davis case
NEVADA — A witness to the July 4 shooting of 15-year-old Jameel Redding-Pettigrew in Fort Dodge told a Story County jury on Friday morning that investigators never followed up with her after she gave them a description of the shooter that didn’t match the suspect who was ultimately arrested for the crime.
Jamarrion “JJ” Davis, 18, is currently on trial for first-degree murder. Though the shooting happened in Fort Dodge, the trial was moved to the Story County Justice Center in Nevada.
On Friday morning, the defense presented its witness, Margie Berg, of Fort Dodge. Berg was walking home near the intersection of Fourth Avenue South and South 15th Street at about 9:44 p.m. on July 4, she said, when she saw an individual “coming up” slowly behind another individual near the corner. The first individual was carrying a gun and then shot the other individual before turning around and running back up the street, she said.
The victim of the shooting was Redding-Pettigrew. The shooter, however, was not Davis, Berg said.
“Did you get a good look at the person?” Charles Kenville, of the Mason City Public Defender’s Office, asked Berg on Friday.
“Yes, I did, I got a good look at him,” she said.
Berg described the shooter as having a “nappy afro,” biracial and “very, very, very light-skinned.”
Later, when being cross-examined by Assistant Webster County Attorney Bailey Taylor, Berg gestured at Davis in the courtroom and said “It was not him, it was a light-skinned kid with an afro.”
Berg testified she had told law enforcement at the scene what she had seen and that she told them she could identify the person if she could see a lineup.
“But she never came back to talk to me,” Berg said. “I did ask them if I could come up there and see a yearbook or something from these kids, because it was a kid.”
She testified that she had called law enforcement several times to ask if they could show her a lineup, and no one ever followed up with her.
However, Berg’s testimony does not line up with the video evidence of the shooting. During cross-examination, Taylor played a video from the home security system of Lee Sundine, who lived a few houses down from the intersection where the shooting occurred.
The video shows a figure walking across the sidewalk, westbound from the southwest corner of the intersection of Fourth Avenue South and South 15th Street. The figure, which the state says is Berg, is about two houses west of the corner when two figures enter the intersection and a gun is fired several times, with the muzzle flashes and the victim falling to the ground both visible.
Berg had testified that she was right next to the stop sign when the shots were fired, however the Sundine video shows her several yards away.
“Ms. Berg, you weren’t as close as you think you are,” Taylor said after showing the video
“Well I was close enough to see that boy’s face … I looked that kid in the eye and I asked him what did he think he was doing?” Berg said.
She said she’s also seen “that kid” several times since the shooting.
Berg also testified that she didn’t recall anyone else nearby when the shooting happened, but the video shows an individual at the Sundine residence running toward Redding-Pettigrew laying on the ground while Sundine goes inside to grab his own firearm for protection.
Taylor had Berg review the video several times, as well as look at some still photographs, but she was still adamant that she was closer to the shooting than the video shows.
Berg also complained that she couldn’t see the papers or the computer screen because she hadn’t brought her eyeglasses with her.
“That night, did you have your glasses on?” Taylor asked.
“No, I don’t need my glasses all the time,” Berg answered.
After the defense rested its case, both sides gave their closing arguments before sending the jury to deliberate.
First Assistant Webster County Attorney Brad McIntyre reminded the jury that testimony from several witnesses placed Davis at a holiday barbecue party happening at 216 S. 14th St. that day and that several witnesses recalled seeing Davis carrying a firearm known as a Mini Draco — a gun that was later recovered and positively identified as the weapon that killed Redding-Pettigrew.
On Wednesday, several witnesses testified that Redding-Pettigrew was walking home past the barbecue when his cousin, Kamaree Mosley, invited him to join. Redding-Pettigrew stopped for a moment before continuing on home. After hearing Mosley tell one of the home’s residents that Redding-Pettigrew was “DJ’s little brother,” the witnesses testified, Davis took off down an alley in the same direction that the teen was headed.
The motive for the shooting, McIntyre told the jury previously, was that Redding-Pettigrew’s older brother, 17-year-old Davonquae Pettigrew, is accused of shooting and killing Patrick Walker, a close friend of Davis. Walker was gunned down in downtown Fort Dodge in the 100 block of North 10th Street on May 2. Pettigrew has been charged with first-degree murder for that shooting.
“That clip from the video camera of Lee Sundine shows all those deliberate actions that Mr. Davis took to hunt down and kill Jameel Redding-Pettigrew,” McIntyre said in his closing arguments.
Evoking a parable about a house built on shifting sand being unable to stand, Kenville told the jury that the police investigation in this case “was built on sand.”
Kenville posited that the witnesses who testified they saw the defendant with the Mini Draco that day are recalling “false memories,” comparing it to a game of “telephone,” where a message gets jumbled and twisted as it’s passed from person to person.
Kenville also noted that the state never ran the serial number of the Mini Draco to determine where it originated.
After about an hour deliberating on Friday afternoon, the jury was dismissed for the weekend. Deliberations will start back up on Monday morning.