An Aiken County jury on Tuesday heard opening statements in the murder case of London Wooden, who is accused of fatally shooting a man on Dallas Circle in October 2011.
Wooden, 19, is charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime
He is accused of shooting 23-year-old David J. Maple following a verbal argument the night of Oct. 1, 2011.
The two were with a group of people gathered near a mobile home on Dallas Circle and got involved in a verbal confrontation, which reportedly prompted the shooting. Maple turned away from the gunman, who'd produced a weapon and fired it several times.
Wooden was arrested shortly after the shooting and has remained in the Aiken County detention center since.
The first witness to testify on Tuesday was Schantrika Carter, who witnessed the shooting and the argument leading up to it and called 911. The state played a recording of Carter's 911 call, during which she can be heard screaming and asking for the address of the home.
“The dude was holding the gun to his head,” she told the operator. “The dude is still alive.”
Carter, whose father and grandmother live on Dallas Circle, said she and several other people on the scene were supposed to go to a club that night. She put her child to bed and stepped outside to light a cigarette where everyone was gathered.
“He looked a little drunk to me,” she said of Wooden. “He was saying some stuff, and it sounded like junk talking.”
Wooden continued “speaking outside of his head,” saying things like, “No one was there for him, no one had his back,” Carter said.
At some point, Wooden called Maple a name, and the two decided they were going to “square off,” Carter said. They walked toward a road and were standing about 10 feet apart, she said.
“'I'm not gonna fight you because tomorrow we're gonna be cool,'” Carter recalled Maple saying. “As he was speaking those words, he was turning around.”
While Maple was turning, Wooden pulled a gun from his pants and fired “five or six shots,” Carter said. Maple then grabbed his side and, stumbling at first, took off running around the mobile home of Carter's grandmother. Carter said she ran after him at first, then ran into her grandmother's home.
While inside calling 911, Carter said she looked out and saw Maple lying on his stomach, with Wooden standing over him and pointing the gun at his head.
“'If you weren't my homeboy, I would kill you now,'” she recalled Wooden saying to Maple. “He got off of him quick and ran.”
Second Circuit Public Defender Grant Gibbons asked Carter how she was able to hear Wooden over the commotion from other people outside while she was standing at the window inside.
“You're able to hear through that window, across the yard?” he asked, to which she responded yes.
Two of the men who had been outside picked up Maple, placed him in a car and drove him to a hospital, Carter said. She added that the amount of time from her arrival at the home to the shooting was “very fast.”
“I was probably outside for five seconds,” she said. When deputies arrived, she told them Wooden was in his home, which was nearby on Dallas Circle.
Maple was later pronounced dead at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.
Carter's arrest record was brought up by the state and the defense on Tuesday. She had two convictions for providing false information to police, as well as shoplifting and vandalism convictions.
Carter said she was on probation at the time of the shooting and was aware of a bench warrant for her arrest for violating probation. The vandalism charge involved gang-related graffiti in Crosland Park, she said, adding that she was never a member of any gang.
The court on Tuesday also heard from Sgt. Shannon Sturgill of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who was one of the first officers to respond to the crime scene. He explained how the Sheriff's Office patrols are divided up and how they respond to a call once it's received. The jury also viewed dash cam video from a patrol car that night.
The state is expected to continue presenting witnesses this morning. Deputy Solicitor Beth Ann Young and Assistant Solicitor Sam Grimes are prosecuting the case. Circuit Court Judge James Barber III is presiding.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.