A murder trial opened Monday with testimony about the close-range gunfire that knocked a paraplegic man out of his wheelchair.
Gwen Harris described in graphic detail for the jury how the defendant, Judy Lynn Washington, fired four shots from a revolver at Steve Mikel, 45, while they socialized on a dead-end street July 31.
“She shot him and said, ‘How about that?’ ” the witness said.
Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus will use similar testimony in the next several days to paint Washington, 52, as a woman bent on revenge from an abusive man.
Twenty-four hours earlier, witnesses testified, Mikel had Washington in a headlock and punched her in the same spot on Ramsey Street, just outside Cherry Tree Crossing apartments. Fogus called “the calculated slaying of Steve” a “simple but pathetic case.”
“It was planned, it was deliberate and she walked away,” Fogus said.
Washington’s attorney, Holly Chapman, countered that the shooting was in self-defense. During that beating the night before, no one came to Washington’s aid. When Mikel picked up her purse July 31 and refused to return it, Washington assumed that the same violence was about to happen to her again, Chapman said.
“Self-defense is a tricky thing,” Chapman said. “We all prize it, but we never want to use it.”
Washington is charged with felony and malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Harris, who identified herself as a close friend of Mikel for the past 16 years, testified that he was about 4 or 5 feet from Washington when he picked up her purse. As Washington asked him to drop the purse, Mikel tried apologizing for what happened the night before.
Harris said Washington pulled the .22-caliber gun out of her shirt and fired. Mikel tried to pick himself up after the first three shots, but by the fourth, which Harris said was delivered as Washington stood over him, he was no longer moving. Washington walked away and was arrested two hours later, about 6 a.m.
“Everybody ran, but I just couldn’t move. I couldn’t abandon him like that,” said Harris, who held Mikel’s hand as he died.