Ali Robinson was a drug dealer whose customers knew just where to find him: playing dominoes at Stallings Playground in Gentilly.
That’s where Robinson sat on the evening of April 13, 2012, when, according to Orleans Parish prosecutors, Chevroun K. Smith confronted him in an argument over rival drug turfs before unloading a 9mm handgun in a brazen murder witnessed by several people.
Smith’s attorneys call the accusations phony and the evidence scanty.
The second-degree murder trial began Tuesday with accusations from Assistant District Attorney Jason Napoli that Smith ran with the “Prieur and Columbus Boys,” or “PCB,” named for their 7th Ward stomping grounds.
The gang’s reputation is well-known to authorities, who claim its members have engaged in a running drug feud with the Frenchmen and Derbigny Boys, or FnD. Alleged members of FnD are accused of shooting up a second-line parade on Mother’s Day last year, injuring 20 people, in what authorities say may have been an attempted hit on PCB associates.
Napoli didn’t say whether Robinson, 32, ran with any particular group.
“We are here because of drug territory, because a playground that is viewed by many as a place to bring your family to enjoy yourself, is also viewed by some as territory,” Napoli said during his opening statement.
The prosecutor presented the jury a blown-up photo of Smith posing with several friends.
“This is Chevroun Smith’s crew. They wanted real estate,” Napoli said.
Smith, 23, who goes by “Chevy,” faces a sentence of life in prison if the jury of eight men and four women convicts him.
New Orleans police arrested Smith six months after the murder in a park that is frequented by basketball players, swimmers and people playing games or preparing barbecue.
According to Napoli, one of the witnesses, Jeremy Brock, frequently played hoops at the park and identified Smith as someone he often greeted there.
“He watched as Chevroun walked over to Ali. The two got in an argument. Ali stood up from his game,” Napoli said. “It was then (Smith) took out his gun and pumped bullet after bullet after bullet into the head and body of Ali Robinson.”
Another witness had just bought $50 in marijuana from Robinson, Napoli said. Others dug through the shot drug dealer’s pockets and ran from the scene.
“They all knew Chevroun Smith, and they all watched as he executed Ali Robinson,” Napoli said.
Smith sat in a dark suit and crisp white dress shirt at the defense table as one of his attorneys, Miles Swanson, dismissed the allegations in a brief opening statement.
“Chevroun Smith is not guilty,” Swanson said. “What they haven’t told you is they have zero physical evidence that connects Chevroun Smith to this crime. They have no video, no fingerprints, no DNA, no hair.”
All prosecutors have, Swanson said, are varying accounts of the shooting, which he described as mere “fireworks.”
Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich told the jury that they may begin deliberating the case late Wednesday.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.