The defense in an Erie homicide case is claiming the victim shot first during a gunfight on a west Erie block in April 2016.

A defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday morning that the defendant, Marquis P. Knight, “did what every living thing is programmed to do when faced with certain death.

“He defended himself,” said the lawyer, Eric Hackwelder, during his 15-minute opening statement.

The defense and prosecution both agree that there was bad blood between Knight and the victim, 19-year-old Allen Basham.

But the prosecution is claiming Knight is guilty of first-degree murder because he chose to pursue and fatally shoot Basham in the 1100 block of West 26th Street on April 16, 2016.

“Marquis Knight had the intent and made the deliberate decision to follow Allen Basham and finish the fight between the two of them,” First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz said during her 15-minute opening statement.

Jurors will have to sift through evidence from a crime scene that spanned two square blocks and involved multiple shooters during the trial in the courtroom of Erie County Judge John J. Mead.

“It is an extensive crime scene that we’re going to be dealing with,” Hirz said.

Knight, 28, is accused of firing the shot that killed Basham during the gunfight. He faces charges of homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of the instrument of a crime.

Testimony in his trial will continue Tuesday afternoon.


At Sebald Hackwelder Orton, we have many years of experience representing people accused of serious crimes such as murder and homicide. If you have been charged with or are being investigated for someone’s death, don’t hesitate to contact our criminal defense attorneys at our offices in Erie, Pennsylvania. We never charge for initial consultations with our criminal defense attorneys.