Ballistics report delays federal trial in Endia Martin killing

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The federal trial of a woman involved in the April 2014 murder of 14-year-old Endia Martin has been delayed over a late ballistics report, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Vandetta Redwood was set to go to trial Monday for handing a .38-caliber revolver to her 14-year-old cousin during a brawl in the Back of the Yards two years ago. Her cousin then allegedly used the weapon to kill Martin and wound another teenage girl. The feds say Redwood, who was 32 at the time, told her cousin to “shoot that bitch.”

But Redwood’s defense attorneys said they received a ballistics report over the weekend that called into question whether the bullet that killed Martin was fired from that gun. U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve agreed to put off the trial — perhaps until January — so Redwood’s legal team could prepare an expert witness to testify about the report.

Redwood faces as many as 15 years in prison if convicted of handing the murder weapon over to her teenage cousin, and for carrying the gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

The charges against Redwood landed days after her other cousin, Donnell Flora, was convicted by a Cook County jury in January for Martin’s first-degree murder and the attempted murder of Lanekia Reynolds, the other wounded teen. Flora was accused of first handing the gun to the alleged shooter.

The feds say the teen then handed it to Redwood before taking it back.

Redwood took the stand during Flora’s trial and invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Her attorney has since accused the feds of trying to punish Redwood for that decision. Meanwhile, Flora has been sentenced to 100 years in prison.

The alleged shooter, who is not being named because she was charged as a juvenile, is still awaiting trial. Prosecutors did not include her on a publicly filed witness list. Others are instead expected to take the stand and testify that they saw Redwood hand the teen a “shiny” or “silver” object.

The violence erupted after a feud over a boy between Reynolds and her rival escalated on Facebook. It snowballed into threats and the two eventually challenged each other to a fight — prompting a large crowd of teens to gather in the 900 block of West Garfield.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Nasser said people in the crowd told the alleged shooter to put her gun away and fight fair — without weapons. So Redwood allegedly bumped chests with her young cousin and took the gun. Then, after Reynolds began swinging the lock, Nasser said Redwood handed the Smith & Wesson back to the girl and told her to “shoot that bitch.”

A cellphone video of the shooting will likely serve as the centerpiece of the prosecutors’ case when it goes to trial. Cook County prosecutors tried to use the same video in 2014 to charge Redwood with mob action and obstruction of justice. But Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. tossed those charges after he viewed the video, calling it “choppy” and “poor.”

Federal prosecutors acknowledge that video of the April 28, 2014, murder does not show Redwood handing the gun to the alleged shooter. Instead, they say it shows Reynolds descending a porch while swinging a lock on a chain. Redwood can be seen crossing the screen toward her young cousin, prosecutors said, and later the teen can be seen raising a silver gun and firing.

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