MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Deshaun Hill Junior’s grieving mother took the witness stand, the first witness to testify at the high-profile trial of the alleged gunman accused of killing the star Minneapolis North High School student-athlete last year. Tuesday Sheppard told the jury of 12 and 3 alternates, Deshaun was her only son.
"A lot of kids wanted to be like him," Sheppard said during her emotional testimony. "Instead of LeBron James, they wanted to be like Deshaun Hill. That’s how great he was."
The second-degree murder trial of Cody Fohrenkam was delayed twice. Once, last November over defense concerns of some key eyewitness identification evidence. Then again last week, when Fohrenkam’s legal team said the 30-year-old defendant was not in the right mental state to start the trial. On Monday, the trial got underway with opening statements.
Prosecutor Christopher Filipski laid out the case against Fohrenkam, telling the jury, Fohrenkam’s movements on February 9th last year were captured on surveillance video including on cameras from Wally’s Foods at the corner of Penn Avenue and Golden Valley Road, the very intersection where the shooting took place.
Filipski said the defendant was robbed of his cell phone at knifepoint in the store earlier in the morning, and that he would return later. That is when the chance encounter with Hill occurred, the pair allegedly brushing past one another on the sidewalk. Fohrenkam would then turn and pull out a gun, firing three shots, Hill was killed.
Witness Ashley McNamara rushed to Hill’s side. She testified, blood was everywhere, recalling what she told the dying 15-year-old, "I tried talking to him. I took his hand. I said, ‘hey friend, it’s okay, I called 911, help is on the way.’"
Fohrenkam’s legal team attempted to create doubt in the evidence, pointing out investigators never recovered the murder weapon and some of the eyewitness accounts of the gunman did not match the defendant -- wrong race, and there was confusion over what the shooter was actually wearing.
"No gun, no fingerprints, no DNA, and no red pants.," said Brooke Adams. "There is no physical evidence tying Mister Fohrenkam to the shooting because Mister Fohrenkam wasn’t the shooter."
Adams told the jury not to add another layer of tragedy to this senseless case by convicting an innocent man.
A total of 11 witnesses testified on the first day of trial. The jurors got to look at Minneapolis police crime scene photos as well as surveillance video from a nearby home owner that captured what appeared to be a fleeing assailant, running away from the scene after the deadly shooting.
Witness testimony resumes Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last a week.