Several video cameras captured the commotion after five shots were fired on the Las Vegas Strip in August 2007.
Four people were hit, including three tourists, while dozens of people outside Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville scattered. Police say alleged gunman and Squad Up gang member Robert Jackson then ran south and ditched his lime green polo shirt in a trash can.
Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo told jurors Tuesday during opening statements in Jackson’s trial that the early morning shooting stemmed from “one of the largest gang wars in Las Vegas.” It happened after several Squad Up gang members, including Jackson, brawled with rival Wood gang members. None of the gang members in the fight were hurt.
Jackson, who faces nearly a dozen counts of attempted murder and battery, eluded authorities for four years before he was captured in Chicago.
Defense attorneys have said Jackson, now 28, did not know he was wanted during that time. Attorney Ozzie Fumo told jurors Tuesday that Jackson is innocent and pointed the finger at another man.
“Get outta here, big homie,” Fumo said in his opening statement, quoting remarks made by Edward “Lil Earl” Walker Jr., a Squad Up member, at the shooting scene. “I done just shot that (expletive).”
Walker was referring to DeMario Morris, the only shooting victim who was not a tourist, Fumo said. He argued that Morris, a reputed gang member, was the target in the shooting.
A group of Army officers who had been drinking outside Margaritaville pointed to Jackson as the shooter, but Fumo said that was because his shirt made him stand out in the crowd. Eyewitness memories may have been clouded in “this fog of war, this chaos” as the crowd dispersed after the gunfire, Fumo said.
“There is no proof that Robert Jackson did anything,” Fumo said.
The gun used in the shooting was found in a trash can near the scene, and on Tuesday jurors watched part of a surveillance video that showed Jackson removing his shirt and tossing it in a trash can outside the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall &Saloon as he fled.
District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez is presiding over the trial, which is slated to last through Aug. 29.
Eric Pratt, a friend who was with Jackson on the night of the shooting, has said that he saw Markus Burton give a gun to Jackson, who was wearing a green, collared shirt and plaid shorts. Pratt, who had sold the gun to Burton, said he saw Jackson fire into the crowd.
“His story just doesn’t make sense,” Fumo told the jury. “He’s not believable.”
Morris, who was not involved in the gang fight, said that he was shot by a man wearing a white shirt and black shorts, according to Fumo.
Fumo said Walker, who is serving time at High Desert State Prison on a murder conviction for a slaying that occurred two months after the Strip shooting, should be facing the charges in the August 2007 incident. He then turned to the prosecutors’ table.
“Big homie, you arrested the wrong guy,” Fumo said. “You charged the wrong guy.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.