Government and defense begin closing arguments in Dujuan Garris’ trial

Defense Attorney Jeffrey Stein pointed at Dujuan Garris as he began his closing statements Tuesday.

“Long dreads, six inches, dark complexion, not that guy,” Stein said, motioning toward his client, charged with the fatal shooting of James Anderson.

Throughout the trial, the defense has argued Garris never shot Anderson, and he was wrongfully charged because of “unreliable sources.” Stein began by telling the jury that they had to abide by the three principles of law, which include presumption of innocence, burden of proof and level of proof.

Stein told the jurors that their start point is not to be “neutral” but start from the position that Garris is “not the shooter.”

In response to the government’s argument that Jaquan Coates was a key witness who identified Garris as the shooter, the defense argued that Coates was not a reliable witness. Stein said Coates was put under a lot of “pressure” both by the police and his mother to come up with an answer “regardless” of what he “saw.”

According to Stein, police offered Coates a reward of $25,000 to speak up and they also threatened to remove his family from their government housing if he did not talk.

Coates was shown an Instagram picture of Garris by the police, and he identified Garris as the person responsible for Anderson’s death.

Stein argued that Coates lies about “small things” and big “things” therefore the jury should not take his testimony into account when deliberating.

During closing arguments, the government argued that there was more than one witness who identified Garris as the shooter. Some of the witnesses never wanted to be labeled as the “snitch” in the neighborhood.

During grand jury testimony, a juror asked one of the witnesses, Darnell Gibson, if the situation were reversed, would he want Anderson to report it.

Gibson, who was one of the people in the house at the time of the shooting said he wouldn’t want him (Anderson), to say anything about it for his “protection and his daughter’s.”

During his final closing arguments, Stein told the jury that once again it is their job to look at the evidence and ask if the prosecution has showed any proof that Garris is guilty.

Stein reminded the jury that he would not get a chance to offer a rebuttal, but the government would. And just because they get to speak last doesn’t mean they have the last words: “you do,” he said.

Garris is charged with first-degree murder while armed, possession of firearm during violation of law, carrying a pistol without a license and attempted robbery while armed.  He is still being without bond, and his trial resumes with the government’s rebuttals Wednesday.

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