Trial begins for woman accused of providing gun in teen's slaying
CHICAGO (SUN TIMES MEDIA WIRE) - When Donnell Flora went to trial last year over the 2014 murder of 14-year-old Endia Martin, his lawyers blamed Vandetta Redwood for handing the murder weapon over to the accused teenage shooter.
Now that Redwood is on trial, her lawyers have pointed the finger right back at Flora, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
The second trial over Martin’s high-profile slaying in the Back of the Yards began in earnest Wednesday at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, where Redwood, 35, has been charged with handing a .38 special caliber revolver to her 14-year-old cousin in the midst of a chaotic street fight, along with a simple instruction: “Shoot that bitch.”
Authorities say the girl obeyed, wounding one teenage girl and killing Martin.
“A fight after school between high school girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum said, describing the scene to jurors in opening statements. “That’s how all of this started. A fight over a boy. It was supposed to be a fist fight. But there wasn’t just high school girls at the fight that day.”
Redwood was among the adults who witnessed the street brawl that spilled out of social media into the 900 block of West Garfield in April 2014, ending with the shooting that claimed Martin’s life. But Redwood’s attorney, J. Clifford Greene Jr., told jurors Wednesday they would not see Redwood hand the gun to the shooter when they view a cell phone video of the fight.
“You will not see, at any time, Vandetta Redwood holding a pistol, transferring a pistol — no contact with a pistol,” Greene said.
Rather, Greene told jurors the accused shooter got the gun from Flora.
The feds’ case could hinge largely on that cell phone video, which Cook County prosecutors also tried to use in 2014 to charge Redwood with mob action and obstruction of justice. Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. quickly tossed those charges after he viewed the video, calling it “choppy” and “poor.”
Krickbaum acknowledged that the video doesn’t show Redwood handing off the weapon to her young cousin, but he said jurors would see the “tell-tale signs” — for example, the gun appears in the young girl’s hands after she has contact with Redwood.
Though the shaky video is central to the prosecutors’ case, Redwood’s defense attorneys played it for the jury first as they cross-examined a woman who witnessed and filmed the fight as a 17-year-old.
Redwood’s federal indictment landed days after her other cousin, Flora, was convicted by Cook County jurors of Martin’s first-degree murder and the attempted murder of Lanekia Reynolds, the other wounded teen. He has been sentenced to 100 years in prison.
Flora was accused of first handing the gun to the alleged shooter. The feds say the teen handed it to Redwood before then taking it back. Redwood has also been charged with carrying the gun within 1,000 feet of two schools.
The alleged shooter, who is not being named because she was charged as a juvenile, is still awaiting trial. Her name did not appear on witness lists filed over the last few days.
Redwood took the stand during Flora’s trial but invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify. When she later appeared in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to face the federal charges last year, she broke down in the courtroom crying “They f—— lied on me. I swear to God. I didn’t do this.”
But Wednesday, she sat in the courtroom with a blank expression — even as Krickbaum showed jurors the pistol that killed Martin and accused Redwood of handing the 14-year-old alleged shooter “a loaded gun for the purpose of murder.”