During opening statements of the retrial of a Columbia man convicted of first-degree murder in 2008, it was announced by the prosecution that the murder weapon had been found during the dredging of Lake Kittamaqundi.
The weapon was not present in the original 2008 trial of Antajuan Lawntee Wilson, 23, whose retrial is underway at Howard County Circuit Court. Wilson had been convicted of killing Bryan Antoine Adams Jr. outside the Wilde Lake Village Center.
During opening statements Tuesday, Assistant State's Attorney Doug Nelsen said workers dredging the north end of Lake Kittamaqundi found a handgun. The dredging operation took place in 2010 and 2011.
Nelsen said officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms later matched shell casings found at the Wilde Lake scene with the gun. Officials traced the gun to being purchased in Augusta, GA, near where Wilson had lived before moving to his grandmother’s residence in Columbia, just weeks before the shooting.
The retrial of Wilson was ordered after an appellate court ruled the jury in Wilson's 2008 trial was not properly instructed on the possibility that Wilson was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Adams outside the Wilde Lake Village Center.
Wilson's defense attorney, Janette E. Deboissiere, argued during her opening statements that although Wilson did shoot Adams, Wilson was in a situation where he was outnumbered, felt threatened and that cultural perceptions played a role in the shooting.
"He shouldn't have pulled the trigger," said Deboissiere. "But it's not first-degree murder."
Deboissiere argued that the young men involved—Wilson was 19 at the time of the shooting, Adams was 20—had been involved in "mugging" at a nearby gas station before the shooting occurred and that the victim and two of his friends had threatened Wilson before the shooting.
Deboissiere described “mugging” as “looks that communicated threats.”
She said Adams and two men who were with him, Bryant Keene and Brandon Mitchell, were mugging with Wilson at the Crown gas station while Wilson was buying cigarettes and Keene made a threatening comment to Wilson.
That brief altercation outside the gas station led to the shooting, according to Nelsen.
Nelsen said it was the first time Wilson had ever encountered Adams. After the altercation it took Wilson 13 minutes to go back to his grandmother’s residence on Green Mountain Circle, change his clothes, grab his gun, return to the gas station and shoot Adams to death, according to Nelsen.
“[Wilson] told detectives he had been disrespected and would not allow himself to be disrespected like that,” said Nelsen.
Deboissiere said at the time Wilson pulled the trigger he was face-to-face with Adams, Keene and Mitchell. She described Adams as an outsider, who was new to the area, who had become involved in complex group dynamics with established neighborhood teens.
She said Wilson had intended to defend himself.
Before opening statements, Deboissiere and Nelsen discussed with Judge William V. Tucker about the accuracy of the transcript from an appellate case. Specifically about a part where a witness testified that Adams had a gun.
Nelsen claimed that part of the transcript is wrong and offered to play the audio from the testimony to the court.
Judge Tucker said he would rule on the admissibility of the audio when the issue arose during the trial.
The trial is expected to take up to two weeks, according to court officials.
Retrial of Man Convicted of 2008 Wilde Lake Murder Set to Begin
Editor's Note: In the original version of this article, assitant state's attorney Doug Nelsen's name was spelled incorrectly, it has been corrected. We regret the error.