LANCASTER – On Nov. 29, 2012, 21-year-old Brandy “Brandon” Houston was shot 12 times during an afternoon street brawl near Coaches Sports Bar in Lancaster.
The trial is underway in an Antelope Valley courtroom for 22-year-old Terrell Henderson, 21-year-old Joshua Lockett, and 36-year-old Randy Sullivan – the three men charged with murder and gang enhancements in connection with Houston’s death.
The jury heard opening statements Wednesday from the prosecution and the defense, which painted two very different pictures of the daylight murder.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami opened by showing jurors a picture of Houston and his infant son. Family members would testify that Houston and the child’s mother were having a verbal argument on the morning of the murder, when the woman called her twin sister to pick her up from Houston’s apartment, Hatami said.
The twin sister sent her boyfriend, Terrell Henderson, who showed up in a black SUV with Joshua Lockett and Randy Sullivan, Hatami said. Witnesses would testify that an argument broke out between Houston and the trio because they were from rival gangs, and the trio promised to return, Hatami said.
Security camera footage would show the three defendants returning with two more men, including the shooter, and parking the black SUV about a quarter of a mile from where Houston and his friends were gathered, Hatami said.
“The five of them snuck through the apartment complex… to where the killing happened,” Hatami said.
Video from a witness’s cell phone captured the ensuing street brawl, and the video would be played during the trial, Hatami said.
“The evidence will show that the shooter hid on the side and didn’t get in the fight… This big fight was a diversion,” Hatami said.
The shooter used the melee to target Houston, chasing and shooting him several times, even as Houston was on his knees, Hatami said.
“Brandy was shot 12 times in broad daylight,” Hatami told the jury.
Homicide detectives still haven’t found the shooter, but the evidence would show that Henderson, Lockett, Sullivan and the shooter all came together and left together, Hatami said.
“Those three people are the ones who started the fight, those three people are the ones who brought the shooter and those three people are the ones responsible,” Hatami said during his opening statement.
But defense attorneys said the case was not a gang case, it was a “baby mama drama” case.
Houston had gotten into a physical fight with the mother of his child, and when the three defendants came for the woman and child, Houston and his family picked a fight, according to defense attorneys.
“Brandon was very simply out of control,” said Henderson’s defense attorney, Michael Morse, during his opening statement.
The evidence would show that Houston was looking for a fight, and had rounded up more than a dozen people to take part in the ensuing street brawl, said Sullivan’s defense attorney, Csaba Palfi.
Joshua Lockett was present, but was not involved in any of the altercations because he was afraid of Houston, said Lockett’s defense attorney, Jamal Tooson.
“Joshua didn’t do anything because Brandon had already beaten him up in the 11th grade,” Tooson said during his opening statement.
None of the three defendants knew that a gun would be involved, their defense attorneys said.
“The evidence is going to be pretty clear, none of these three men were the shooter,” Palfi said.
Hatami said he would likely call about 35 witnesses to testify during the murder trial, estimated to last up to three weeks.
Previous related stories: