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Trial begins in slaying of 18-year-old Fredericksburg resident Jasiah Smith

by | Jul 9, 2024 | ALLFFP, Courts and crime, Fredericksburg

Stephen Eubank paused for emphasis, letting the number sink in before proceeding with his opening statement.

“Eleven times,” the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney told the jury on Tuesday afternoon, at the onset of a three-day trial in Fredericksburg Circuit Court related to the 2023 slaying of 18-year-old Jasiah Smith. “That’s how much Jasiah Smith was shot just before 3 p.m. on March 26 in Chadwick Court.

“You’re going to hear from the medical examiner about each of those wounds: two in the chest, three in the lateral chest, one in the posterior head, one in the neck, two in the left hand, one in the right thigh and one in the chin.”

Aaron Carter, 20, and Lorenzo Brooks, 18, are charged with first-degree murder and the use of a firearm in commission of a felony in Smith’s killing.

Prosecutors spent most of Tuesday’s proceedings methodically laying the groundwork for their case against Carter and Brooks. Eubank, along with Commonwealth’s Attorney Libby Humphries, called several witnesses who were at the scene within moments of Smith being shot near the edge of a basketball court and parking lot in the 400 block of Chadwick Court.

Eubank also hinted at video evidence that police were able to retrieve from nearby home security cameras.

“You’re going to see it happen,” he told jurors of the shooting.

Jim Ilijevich, who made opening remarks on behalf of the defense at the joint trial, emphasized to jurors that Carter and Brooks’ proximity to the crime scene that afternoon wasn’t especially notable.

Brooks “lived within an area 200 yards away,” said Ilijevich, while Carter “grew up here in the city of Fredericksburg. That’s where they belong.”

Louis Cole testified that he was walking toward the basketball court with his two sons, ages 7 and 9, and was approaching the corner of Fall Hill Avenue and Bragg Hill Drive when shots rang out.

“Maybe four or five,” Cole replied, when asked how many gunshots he heard. “It was really fast — back to back to back.”

After getting his children back inside, Cole said he ran in the direction of the gunshots where he found Smith, on his back and unresponsive. He took off his shirt to apply pressure to the gunshot wound on Smith’s chest until EMS arrived.

Fredericksburg Police Officer Kevin Hellmuth testified that when he arrived on the scene, four or five people were huddled around Smith, whose head was leaning against a chain link fence.

Hellmuth said he readied an automatic electronic defibrillator and attached electrodes to Smith’s chest, but the device indicated “no shock advised” twice, meaning that his heart’s rhythm wouldn’t allow for resuscitation. He died a short time later at Mary Washington Hospital.

Fredericksburg Police Det. Nikki Lovett outlined the macabre process of arraying Smith’s blood-stained clothes — a dark sweatshirt, a white shirt, jeans and underwear — on sheets of butcher paper to tag and photograph bullet holes. There were 15 in total, Lovett testified.

Other key testimony came from a neighbor of Brooks — who the Free Press is not identifying because she was a minor at the time — who said she witnessed two males hop a fence and throw something down a hill behind a nearby townhouse on the afternoon of March 26.

Her tip led police to recover two 9mm handguns — a Glock 17 and Glock 19 — while carrying out a search warrant at Brooks’ residence on March 31.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday, when the Commonwealth will continue presenting its case.

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