This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Madeleine O’Neill on Jan. 17, 2018
Police charge that the four fired shots from an SUV as they drove through the party, eventually crashing into a nearby utility pole.
They face charges including homicide, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, among others.
A witness told police he encountered the SUV at the intersection of West 29th and Peach streets moments before the shooting, according to evidence presented at the defendants’ preliminary hearing in May 2016.
The witness told police the SUV was driven by McLaurin and occupied on the passenger side by Russell and Jones.
An individual in the vehicle told the witness they planned to “do a drive-by” at the party, according to testimony from the preliminary hearing. Witnesses also reported seeing gunshots and flashes coming from the SUV as it passed through the neighborhood, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed with the criminal complaint.
Another witness reported seeing Mitchell and McLaurin exiting the SUV after it crashed into the utility pole, the affidavit states.
Another man, 23-year-old Darion A. Eady, was charged with fatally shooting another teenager at the party, 16-year-old Elijah Jackson. The five were initially charged together, but Eady, who was the only defendant charged in Jackson’s death, went to trial alone. Eady was not accused of being in the SUV.
Eady was convicted of third-degree murder in February and sentenced to serve 23 years and 10 months to 47 years and eight months.
Police have said the homicide victims were not believed to be the intended targets of the shooting.
Before jury selection starts in the case Wednesday, the defense and prosecution will also make final evidentiary requests before the trial at a hearing before Cunningham.
Daneri is prosecuting the case with First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz.
Mitchell is represented by Erie lawyer John Carlson; McLaurin by Gene Placidi; Russell by Eric Hackwelder, and Jones by Philadelphia lawyer Shaka Johnson. The defendants are being held in the Erie County Prison without bond.
Opening statements are scheduled to start on Monday in Courtroom H, the largest in the Erie County Courthouse.