Prosecutors used cellphone tower tracking information and surveillance video Wednesday to attack Tavis Joseph’s claim that he was neither at the scene of a double murder in Harvey in August 2013 nor in the car that delivered his injured cousin to West Jefferson Medical Center.
The jury also heard the woman Joseph said he was with at the time of the shooting say she could not recall where she was that night, and that she did not have his cellphone.
Joseph is on trial for second-degree murder in the Aug. 13, 2013, shooting death of Nikiayh Westerfield and Dave Harrison, two Southern University students authorities say had arranged to sell marijuana to a group of four men that included Joseph.
A few minutes before midnight, authorities say, the group opened fire on the two men in their Chevrolet Blazer in the 4000 block of Paige Janette Drive. Both men died on the scene, their last moments of agony captured in recorded 911 calls.
Two of Joseph’s alleged accomplices are already in jail for the slayings.
Irvin Harris, 22, of Harvey, was convicted of second-degree murder last year and sentenced in January to life in prison. Jeremy Coleman, 21, of Waggaman, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter in exchange for his testimony and is serving 30 years in prison.
Authorities say they think a fourth person was involved but they do not have enough evidence for a warrant.
Wednesday’s proceedings saw testimony from Karlinda Brooks, who was Joseph’s girlfriend at the time, and Coleman, who is Joseph’s cousin and who was paralyzed during the shooting.
Brooks testified repeatedly that she could not recall details of the night when Joseph said she was with him and that she never asked about how or why her boyfriend’s cousin was shot.
Brooks, who said she barely slept the night before testifying and was nervous, could not explain why she did not return the call of Sgt. Gary Barteet, who left messages in the days after her boyfriend’s arrest saying that Joseph claimed he was with her the night of the shooting.
“I don’t feel like my information would have released him from jail,” she testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese.
“There’s nothing that you could say that wasn’t a lie,” Freese countered.
“That’s not correct,” she protested.
Coleman, who came into the courtroom in his wheelchair, testified Joseph was at the shooting site that night. He said he did not want to testify but was convinced by his mother that he had to look out for his own best interests.
Barteet and officials from Sprint testified for the prosecution that Joseph’s cellphone, which he says he did not have at the time, was used to make calls that pinged off cell towers and that put him near the shooting, which occurred about 11:54 p.m., and at the hospital, where he was shown on video after Coleman was taken there several minutes after midnight.
Joseph said he went to the hospital in his own car, though Barteet said that version of events doesn’t match up with the known timing.
The defense is scheduled to put on its case Thursday morning, and the case is expected to go the jury by the afternoon.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.