"Here's why Herman Taylor was killed: He was killed because he happened to be on Humboldt Avenue," said Assistant District Attorney Masai King in an opening statement yesterday in the Suffolk Superior Court trial of Lamory Gray. He is charged with first-degree murder in Taylor's death.
Prosecutors say Gray, whose nickname is "Laws," mistakenly thought Taylor was a gang rival."Laws was a Heath Street soldier," King said. "On July 2006, he went on a mission up Humboldt Avenue to shoot someone from H-Block."Gray, wearing a blue dress shirt and glasses and with his hair in cornrows, sat next to his attorney, James Budreau, as King talked. At one point he glanced over his shoulder toward relatives seated in the courtroom and shook his head from side to side.Gray is also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawfully carrying a loaded handgun. He has been held without bail since October 2007, following a 17-month grand jury investigation, according to prosecutors.The defendant's lawyer said prosecutors cannot prove a motive for the crime, and for that reason they are introducing a gang angle. "The word 'gang' is the Commonwealth's evidence here," Budreau said.
At the time of the homicide, there had been at least
50 shootings between gangs from the Bromley-Heath and Humboldt Avenue areas,King said.Much of the day's proceedings centered on the testimony of a 19-year-old witness, Shumane Garvin. She testified with the jury excused from the courtroom, saying repeatedly that she could not recollect much of what she told a grand jury, forcing King to present her with transcripts in attempts to refresh her memory.King said Garvin's testimony sharply differed with what she had told a grand jury in 2007, telling Judge Frank Gaziano that earlier she had described "seeing the shooter fire a firearm several times in the direction of the victim, Herman Taylor."Garvin testified yesterday that her brother and the 23-year-old defendant were friends. "There's an inference that she doesn't want to be involved in the case and doesn't want to do anything to hurt her brother or her brother's friend," King said.Budreau said that the prosecution's attempt to identify his client as the shooter through Garvin is deeply flawed and that Garvin has never given a positive identification of the assailant.Marisa Luse, the victim's oldest sister, was the first person called to the witness stand. King gave her a photograph of Taylor. She said that it was the last picture taken of her brother and that she snapped it during a birthday party for their sister in June 2006, a few days before his death.Today, the jury was expected to visit the site where Taylor was killed.