Brandon Chase set up a deal to buy marijuana, but whether he also knew about and planned a robbery - which led to a killing - was a theme of the first day of his murder trial on Tuesday.
Chase is being tried on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action for the killing of Columbia resident Keith Mosely at 1029-B Buena Vista St., a Jefferson City public housing complex.
A jury could decide as early as today what liability, if any, Chase has from Mosely's death. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. this morning.
"This case is about the death of a man over a robbery over two ounces of marijuana," prosecutor Mark Richardson argued during opening statements.
Richardson said Chase wasn't the shooter, but was guilty of planning the robbery.
Under questioning from Richardson, Chase's girlfriend, Danielle Coleman, said Chase had mentioned earlier in the day the possibility of robbing Brent Slaughter. Initially, they thought Slaughter would provide them with the marijuana, since he was the one who called Coleman seeking buyers.
"He (Chase) said something about punching Brent in the neck" to get the marijuana, Coleman said.
But she said she thought he was joking, and that she didn't know of any plans for a robbery. Still, she acknowledged, being worried about the deal, which took place at her 1029-B Buena Vista apartment, where she lived with her two young children.
She said she knew Mosely, nicknamed "Lazy," and knew of his reputation on the streets. Coleman said she told Chase that they better not cross Mosely, because "messing with Lazy is a death sentence."
Richardson said Coleman's previous statements to police suggest she knew more about plans for a robbery.
Public defender Jan King said Chase "didn't want anything to do with robbing Mr. Mosely. He knew him and respected him."
King said Chase might have robbed Slaughter, but that Chase made it clear to anyone who would listen that he would not rob Mosely. The robbers didn't tell Chase about their plans, he said.
Coleman said Mosely and Chase hugged each other when Mosely arrived. But she also said Chase told Mosely that Chase's friends were afraid to deal with him because they were afraid Mosely would rob them.
Chase had previously agreed to pay $640 for two ounces of high-grade marijuana, but the selling price increased to $700.
"He (Mosely) raised the price because he felt like (Chase) was lollygagging me around," Slaughter said during testimony.
Chase left Coleman's apartment three or four times earlier in the day, saying he was trying to find friends to "front" him some of the money.
According to various testimony, when Chase finally said he had the money, he asked Mosely for a sample of the marijuana, which Mosely provided. Chase left for about 15 minutes, then returned with others. One of the people who followed Chase into the room had a mask on and locked the apartment door behind him.
Slaughter testified that the man pulled out a gun and demanded Mosely give him the marijuana, threatening to kill him if he didn't. Mosely refused, stepping toward the man, telling him: "You don't have to do it like this."
He said the man shot Mosely, who grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. "He was moaning, telling me it hurt, "don't leave me,'" Slaughter said.
Richardson said the gun involved in the shooting was bought on April 16, five days before the shooting. Witnesses at the scene, Richardson said, knew that Mosely was unarmed.
Including two alternatives, the jury is composed of seven white men, six white women and one black man. Most appeared middle-aged. Chase is black.
In November, co-defendant Tracy Session, 623 Locust St., pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The third defendant, Khiry Summers, 1606 N. Brooks Court, turned down a plea deal and awaits a trial.