TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Six more witnesses testified on Wednesday in the bench trial for Iyon Erves. As we've previously reported, Erves is facing six felony charges and two misdemeanor charges for allegedly shooting a gun at a person at the Tippecanoe Mall last December.
The day started off on a different note. The court had subpoenaed Carrington Boykins to testify that morning. She was ordered to be at the court at 8:30 in the morning, however she was not there and no one answered the door at her home when deputies went to get her. She eventually made it to the courthouse around 11 a.m.
She told Judge Sean Persin that she was up late the night before tending to her son who had a fever. This became a concern for Judge Persin in connection to the current pandemic, but decided to proceed since she was there.
She testified that she knew Erves and also knew his mother from the store she owned at the mall called Dream Palace. She was questioned by police on the night of December 27th about what she saw and heard. She ended up contradicting the statement she made to police that night.
In a video of her interview with an LPD detective in December, she said Erves told her "I hope I shot him" in reference to a minor he was allegedly aiming at. However while sworn in under oath in court, she repeatedly denied Erves told her that. She said she did not remember what she told police that day.
Judge Persin had to break for lunch at noon for another scheduled hearing. He said he wanted her home with her son since he was sick, even though the state was not done questioning him. She said she would check her email for notification of when she should return and that she would be able to get to the courthouse in time. The state said after the lunch break they sent an email around 1:20 p.m. saying she needed to be back at the courthouse at 2:15 to finish her testimony.
Judge Persin also called the Tippecanoe County Health Department to get their guidance on how they should proceed. He said having witnesses testify remotely was problematic and he didn't want to deal with that in this case. Boykins did not show up at 2:15 and the court went into recess for 45 minutes.
She was brought to the courthouse around 3:15. Judge Persin said, per the health department's advice, everyone in the courtroom had to wear a mask regardless of social distancing. Boykins said she had been tested for coronavirus but it was negative and felt fine. Every person entering the courthouse also had their temperature taken and if it is below 100 degrees, you are allowed to enter. The reason she gave for being late a second time was that her phone had died.
The state continued questioning her about the video. She said she remembered other things Erves had said to her that day, but remained adamant that she could not confirm her words in the video with LPD. Judge Persin ultimately did not allow the state to admit the video as official evidence.
Since Boykins was late in the morning, they decided to move forward with other witnesses who were there. A fifth minor who was part of the friend group involved in the incident testified first. He confirmed much of what the other minors testified yesterday. However, he said he did not see the gun being pulled out or shot, because he ran away as soon as the shooter reached for something in his waistband. He said he heard what sounded like multiple gunshots, but was unsure on the amount.
Officer Keifer Mikels with LPD testified next. He said he is the one who found a gun, several unspent bullets and an unattached magazine in the storage room of the Dream Palace. Officers arrested Erves in that store, which was owned and operated by his mother. The state played Officer Mikels' body camera footage showing him finding the items.
Officer Kevin Cooney with LPD is a crime scene technician who responded to the scene that night. The state showed photos he had taken of a car in the parking lot that was damaged. He confirmed it was recent damage that was consistent with a gunshot. He was able to recreate the trajectory of the gunshot. When asked if it was possible that the gun could have been pointing upwards and still done the same damage, he responded that he did not believe so.
Officer James Jarrett with LPD testified next. He was the first officer to take a statement at the scene from the alleged victim, who is a minor. In a portion of body camera footage presented by the state, you see the victim and two female minors standing near the Dream Palace. Those two females testified yesterday. The victim points into the store saying the shooter was in the store. Neither the state nor the defense called the victim as a witness and it is unclear why that is the case.
Jarrett said in his testimony that the victim appeared "shaken up" and "scared." In the video, you see the camera pointed towards the group. You see the victim perk up as he sees someone off camera. He yells several expletives and says, "you're going to jail." The video continues with Officer Jarrett questioning the three minors, but Judge Persin ends the usability of the video after he yells the expletives under the law rule of excited utterance.
Jarrett's testimony was interrupted when Boykins finally arrived at the courthouse in the morning. His body camera video was played in the afternoon when his testimony resumed.
Erica Gilbert took the stand next. She is a forensic firearms examiner with the Indiana State Police laboratory. She confirmed that the casings found at the scene matched the gun Officer Mikels found in the storage room of Dream Palace.
Finally, Detective Michael Humphrey with the Lafayette Police Department testified last. He got the consent of Erves' mother to search her store. He confirmed the location of the store in the mall, which matched previous testimony given by others. He also investigated possible security camera footage. He said there were cameras inside Dream Palace, but they were not working. He said there were no cameras on the outside of the mall at that time either.
The state then rested its case and the defense called no witnesses. Erves decided to uphold his right to silence and chose not to testify, and the defense rested its case. Both began closing arguments.
Judge Persin acknowledge that there was plentiful evidence that proved Erves was in fact the shooter. What the state is really trying to prove is the intent to kill as part of the attempted murder charge.
The state said that multiple witnesses testified to seeing the shooter's arm fully extended and aimed at another person. They argued that someone does not pull out and aim a gun in the first place unless their intention is to kill. They also added the fact that multiple shots were fired in rapid succession shows intent to kill.
Also, it was first agreed that the group would go outside so Erves and the victim could fight. The state argued if Erves had intended to only fist fight, then he would have stood closer to his target. However, multiple people testified that Erves stood back out of arms reach of anyone else in the group. The state said that he knew he intended to pull out his gun and had no intention of physically fighting.
The defense argued that multiple witnesses said the group was running away at or around the time Erves pulled out the gun and fired the first shot. Yet even though people were running away, people testified that Erves did not move his body to follow someone who might be a moving target.
The defense argued that the amount of space between the group members actually shows that he did not want to kill anyone because a target further way is less likely to be struck. The defense said the state had not proved other counts of attempted battery and intimidation, and that at best, the state had only proved criminal recklessness.
The state responded that someone doesn't have to actually testify to being scared. Merely the act of running away from a gun proves fear and intimidation.
The state and defense finished closing arguments around 4:45 in the afternoon. Judge Persin said he wanted to use the night to look over his notes and review testimony before making a guilty or not guilty verdict. Erves told his family members in the gallery that he loved them as he exited the courtroom in handcuffs with a baliff escort. The court will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday for the final verdict.