As Shawan Adams began wiping away her tears, she recalled how her 15-year-old son was slain on a Desire neighborhood street corner one night in 2012.
Pausing frequently to catch her breath, she told a Criminal District Court jury Thursday how she cradled her dying son Brandon in her arms.
“I was down there with him trying to get him up, just trying to get him up,” Adams said. “There was blood everywhere, coming out of his mouth and his nose. And he just wasn’t responding.”
Adams' emotional testimony wasn’t just in response to the harrowing memory of her son’s death, for which no one has ever been arrested.
In a tragic twist, the mother of five was testifying in the murder trial for her other son, 23-year-old Eric “Teddy” Adams, who was with his younger brother on the night when Brandon was fatally shot.
Three days after his brother's death on April 27, 2012, prosecutors allege, Adams kidnapped his slain brother’s girlfriend, drove her to a remote area of New Orleans East and shot her multiple times, killing her.
Adams is facing charges of second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice in the shooting death of 15-year-old Christine Marcelin. He has pleaded not guilty.
The trial began Tuesday before Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier. Prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on testimony from jailhouse informants and cellphone records to prove their case.
On the morning of April 30, 2012, police said, a homeless man stumbled upon Marcelin’s bullet-riddled body in the 5000 block of Alcee Fortier Boulevard. Prosecutors allege that Eric Adams, distraught over his brother's death, drove Marcelin out to the Michoud area in New Orleans East and shot her 14 times.
NOPD Detective Wayne DeLarge testified Thursday that the young girl had been shot from behind and was found face down in a patch of dirt and gravel in a secluded area near the levee. Near Marcelin’s body, DeLarge said, detectives found 14 spent bullet casings, a cigarette butt, a condom wrapper, a used condom, a shampoo bottle and a water jug.
A coroner’s examination later determined that Marcelin was not sexually assaulted and so detectives did not send the condom to the State Police Crime Lab for DNA testing, DeLarge said.
Both Marcelin and Brandon Adams were eighth-graders at KIPP Believe Charter Prep at the time of their deaths.
Adams’ mother told the jury Thursday that she had never met her son’s girlfriend until after he was killed, when Marcelin visited Adams’ home to offer her condolences.
Prosecutors allege Eric Adams offered the girl a ride home later that evening, after which they say he drove her out to New Orleans East and killed her. But Adams' mother testified that the girl left with a different person, though she did not know that person's identity.
Under examination by Assistant District Attorney Alex Calenda, Shawan Adams told the jury that her older son — who had suffered a bullet wound to his leg when his brother was shot — left to spend the night at an aunt’s home. She repeatedly stressed her son's injured condition and said he had trouble walking on his own, something his attorneys have stressed as evidence of his innocence.
Eric Adams was not initially considered a suspect in Marcelin’s killing, but he was arrested on a charge of obstruction of justice a month later. Police accused him of failing to turn over an iPhone that authorities knew he carried, though he denied it was his.
Police said they tracked Marcelin’s cellphone and found that it traveled east from Adams' home to the spot where her body later turned up, then reversed course in the direction of Adams' aunt's house. A car parked outside the house matched a description given by someone who saw a similar vehicle near the area where Marcelin's body was found.
Adams wasn't indicted in Marcelin’s murder until July 2015. No reports were published at the time explaining what prompted authorities to bring the charges.
Several jailhouse informants to whom Adams allegedly bragged about the killing are expected to testify Friday.
Adams, who is being represented by attorneys John Fuller and Greg Carter, sat quietly in the courtroom Thursday, dressed in a blue shirt, dark tie and slacks.