Government and defense attorneys begin opening statements in Decuir trial

The government and defense attorneys began opening statements on Wednesday for the trial of Derryck Antjuan Decuir, charged with the alleged murder of Malek Mercer.

In their opening statements on Wednesday, the government detailed the emotional narrative of events that led to Mercer’s shooting.

On the night of June 15, 2015, Mercer and his friend Tyshawn Bethea were dropping off Bethea’s girlfriend at a bus stop. After Bethea’s girlfriend got on the bus, Mercer and Bethea walked towards their bus stop to return to Bethea’s home. While they were waiting on the bus to return home, they were confronted by three men, including Decuir. One of the men asked Bethea for a cigarette and Bethea said no.  Then Mercer and Bethea both got on the bus as well as the three men.

When they got off the bus, Mercer and Bethea noticed that the three men they saw earlier followed them. Decuir approached Mercer and asked him for the Versace red belt he had on and Mercer refused.  Mercer and Decuir continued walking toward their destination. When Bethea turned around he saw one of the men pull out a gun and shoot Mercer.

Bethea ran to his house and called his older brother to ask for help. Bethea’s brother called the police. One of the officers who arrived on the scene, Officer Abrams testified in court that she began to comfort Bethea.

“I just held him he was crying…he looked terrified and begged me to help him. At this time, I became like a mom to him I just held him and began to comfort him,” Abrams said.

The government also said that on that same night, one of the three men was on parole and had a GPS tracker. He did not want to be identified as a suspect, so he called the police to explain what had happened and identified Decuir as the shooter.


According to court documents, Decuir had previously pleaded guilty to handgun possession and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was on probation at the time of the shooting. Police charged him with assault and intent to kill while armed, and the charges were upgraded when Mercer died.

The defense attorney however painted another narrative, calling Mercer’s death a tragedy, and not a crime.

“While what happened to Malek Mercer was a tragedy, my client acted in self-defense,” Lee Goebes one of Decuir’s attorneys said.

According to Goebes, Mercer carried a duffle bag with him, which Decuir believed had a gun inside. He also argued that the two men were not following Bethea and Mercer, and they were instead going to 7-11.

The government brought forth witnesses including Mercer’s mother, Sharon Betts and Bethea. When the government showed the video footage from the police department, Bethea identified the man as Decuir.

The trial is currently in progress and will resume on March 2.


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