BELTON — Bell County prosecutors continued building their case Wednesday against a 28-year-old Killeen man on trial for an October 2012 murder.
In addition to witnesses who took the stand in-person, prosecutors used video conference technology to allow jurors to hear live testimony from a witness more than 1,000 miles away in the murder trial of Cliffton Sivad Montague on Wednesday.
Judge Martha Trudo moved the proceeding to an auxiliary courtroom in the Bell County Justice Complex, allowing the witness, Trina Ware, to testify from New York.
Ware, who is six months’ pregnant, could not appear in person due to medical reasons.
Montague, 28, is on trial for the death of Laterrance Deshawn Newsome, who was shot multiple times inside an apartment in the 3200 block of Hereford Lane in Killeen on Oct. 11, 2012.
Montague’s defense team argued against Ware appearing via video, stating it interfered with their client’s right to face and cross-examine the witness.
During her testimony, Ware told jurors she and a friend were outside their apartment, less than a block from the crime scene. Ware said Montague, who she knew and at times had dated, ran up to her minutes after the shooting.
“He was real hyped up, breathing really hard,” Ware said.
Ware also testified that Montague said he had shot someone. Montague then handed her a gun before running off.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Ware said. “I went to the backyard, and just tossed (the gun) over the fence.”
The weapon that killed Newsome was never found, officials said.
Montague’s defense attorneys said Ware did not tell police about the gun in her initial statement to Killeen police in October 2012, and didn’t mention that he handed her a gun until her testimony Wednesday morning.
“So it’s been 17 months, and you haven’t said a word about a weapon?” asked Michael Magana, one of Montague’s defense lawyers.
Ware said she lied because she was afraid of getting in trouble and losing her son.
Jurors also heard from the case’s lead investigator, Killeen Police Department Detective Richard Tramp. During Tramp’s testimony, jurors watched a recording of Tramp and other investigators questioning an animated Montague, who claimed he saw Newsome pull out a gun during an altercation with a group of men in the apartment that night.
“I guess somebody snatched a pistol out of (Newsome’s) hand,” Montague told police in the video.
Prosecutors also called a forensic firearms expert from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the stand Wednesday, who testified that the seven bullets pulled from Newsome’s body were fired from the same gun.
He also testified that 11 shell casings found at the crime scene were also fired from the same firearm.
Testimony is expected to continue today.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.