The Baton Rouge teen charged with gunning down three people and wounding a fourth at a crowded birthday party and rap concert in 2014 is the victim of either mistaken identity or purposeful misidentification, his lawyer said after a Tuesday hearing before the Feb. 22 start of his trial.
Nakeydran Williams, 17, was indicted on three counts of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 15-year-olds Kendal Dorsey and Marcell Franklin and 18-year-old Diontrey Claiborne on March 28, 2014, during the party at the Baker Civic Club. Each of the victims, who have been described as innocent bystanders by a prosecutor, died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Williams also is charged with attempted second-degree murder in the wounding of Javaughn Simmons, who was 19 at the time. Simmons was shot in the jaw.
Baker police have identified Simmons as the intended target of Williams, who turned 16 five days before the shooting.
Following a brief pretrial conference in the case Tuesday, Tommy Damico, who represents Williams, again proclaimed his client’s innocence.
“My client has been anxious to get this case before a jury,” Damico said inside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse. “It is a case of mistaken identity at best or a case of purposeful misidentification at worst.”
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III declined to respond specifically to Damico’s comments.
“We are prepared to go forward and present our case fully to the jury,” he said.
Williams, whose nickname is “Scrappy,” is being tried as an adult.
The trial is set to begin Feb. 22 in state District Judge Tony Marabella’s courtroom.
Williams could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of second-degree murder.
Before Williams’ case was moved to state district court, detectives testified at an April 2014 hearing in East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court that three witnesses, including his girlfriend, identified Williams as the civic club shooter.
His girlfriend, however, testified at the hearing that detectives pressured her to identify Williams. But the detectives denied coercing the girl and said it was she who contacted authorities.