RALEIGH — The defense attorney representing one of the brothers accused in a home invasion that left a man paralyzed and his wife a victim of sexual assault urged the jury on Thursday to weigh the case with facts, not empathy for the fear thrust upon the victims.
Jahaad Marshall, 27, is on trial in Wake County Superior Court for a series of home invasions that happened in Wake County in late 2012 and early 2013. He has pleaded not guilty, but his brother has entered guilty pleas to several of the break-ins, burglaries and assaults that prosecutors contend they carried out together.
Deonte Thomas, the Raleigh lawyer representing Jahaad Marshall, said in his opening statement on Thursday that jurors would hear scary facts during the trial.
Ill tell you these are scary facts, a terrible story, Thomas said in his opening statement.
But, he added, jurors should not make decisions in the cases based on fear. He further added that the case should not be decided on fear that somebody from the wrong side of the tracks came into this historic neighborhood.
Opening statements follow mistrial
Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger laid out his case for the jury in an opening statement that came several days after a judge declared a mistrial in the Jahaad Marshall case.
Prosecutors had hoped to try Marshall with his younger brother Shabar Marshall, a 17-year-old who has acknowledged guilt for the violence that occurred inside a Lane Street home in the historic Oakwood neighborhood on Jan. 7, 2013.
Shabar Marshall has entered guilty pleas for more than a dozen charges that could result in his being sentenced to a lifetime in prison. Sentencing has been delayed until after the trial of Jahaad Marshall.
Zellinger said several weeks ago he did not plan to call Shabar Marshall to testify against his brother, but that was before a plea arrangement for other accusations against Shabar Marshall was proposed and withdrawn earlier this week.
Judge Henry Hight declared a mistrial in the Jahaad Marshall case on Monday after the attorney for Shabar Marshall told the jury for that trial that both brothers were guilty of what they had been accused.
On Thursday, Thomas told jurors that Shabar Marshall shot the man inside the Lane Street home early on Jan. 7 and also sexually assaulted the woman there.
Zellinger laid out a scene similar to the one he presented before Hight earlier this month when Shabar Marshall pleaded guilty to attempted murder, attempted rape, a sex offense, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in the Lane Street invasion. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, kidnapping and armed robbery in a Dec. 30 invasion on Sherry Drive.
Two late-night invasions described
In both invasions, the intruders forced the couples to move around their houses at gunpoint.
On Dec. 30, 2012, between 3 and 4 a.m., a man in his 60s awoke inside his Sherry Drive home in northeastern Raleigh to a pistol under his chin, Zellinger told Hight. There were two men in the bedroom standing over the surprised homeowner. One was noticeably taller than the other.
The intruders, at least one wearing a ski mask, told the man to open a safe in the home. The man responded that he did not have the combination. His wife, he said, knew how to open the safe.
One of the intruders zapped the husband in the back of the leg with an electroshock weapon. The intruders then proceeded to force the wife, who had fallen asleep in a chair in another room, to open the safe. Inside were several bonds documents she told them would require identification to cash.
The burglars then asked the couple what else of value they had before handcuffing them to the rail of a bed.
Cash and a silver-colored .25-caliber Raven pistol with wood grips were taken from the Sherry Drive home.
Then, Zellinger said, the gun was seen in the invasion of the home on Lane Street in the historic Oakwood neighborhood nine days later.
On Jan. 7, 2013, a couple in their 30s left the kitchen window cracked inside a Lane Street home to rid it of the smoke from chicken thighs cooked earlier in the evening.
The husband and wife fell asleep and awoke between 3 and 4 a.m. to find two intruders standing over them. The Lane Street residents offered a description to investigators that was similar to that of the pair described by the couple on Sherry Drive.
All the shattered lives
The Lane Street couple were forced out of bed. The intruders made them lie face down on the floor, and a stun gun was used to shock them.
The husband and wife were asked where the money was, Zellinger said. They offered money from their wallets, but that was not enough to satisfy the intruders.
The woman then offered jewelry to the burglars, but one asked with profanity what he was going to do with this.
Then the men turned their attention to the wife.
The younger intruder had a gun pointed at the back of the womans head during a sexual assault and attempted rape.
The older brother had restrained the womans husband for part of that time before engaging in what prosecutors contended was another attempted rape.
The husband then tried to fight off her attackers, Zellinger said, creating a scenario in which she was able to escape to a neighbors house to seek help.
While there, she heard a gunshot.
The husband was shot, and according to a report from emergency room doctors, the bullet missed his heart by roughly an inch and struck a vertebra, leaving him paralyzed.
Zellinger told the jury they would hear about the crimes and all the shattered lives the defendant had left in his wake.
Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1