Seventeen King County Superior Court jurors were told on Thursday they would be given a crash course in Seattle’s gang culture during the murder trial of a man charged in a deadly downtown shooting that has killed a bystander and injured six others, including a member of a rival gang.
Marquise Tolbert and William Tolliver, both 26, are charged with spraying bullets during an exchange of fire along half a block of Third Avenue just south of Pine Street, during the height of the evening rush hour on January 22, 2020. They’re each charged with one count of first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree assault, with each count carrying a weapons upgrade fire.
The two men are co-accused, but they are being tried separately because an expert witness hired by Tolliver’s defense team is currently unavailable to testify, according to court records.
“It was not a random act of violence – it was a targeted shooting,” and all but one of the victims were collateral damage, Senior Assistant District Attorney Brandy Gevers told jurors Thursday during opening statements in Tolbert’s trial. .
Gevers said Tolbert and Tolliver, longtime friends and members of the Hoover gang with sets or cliques in south and west Seattle, met downtown to look for rival Deuce 8s’ Jamel Jackson, a Central District gang, because Jackson had written a Facebook post. two days earlier, mocking a Low Profile gang member who was a friend of Tolbert.
Defense attorney Emily Gause countered that Tolbert and Tolliver went downtown for ‘fun and friendship’ and were accosted by Jackson, who she says was the real instigator of the six-man shooting. seconds that sent pedestrians running for cover. She said Seattle police detectives rushed to judgment, portraying Jackson as the victim before reviewing any video evidence or interviewing the many witnesses in the case.
“The Marquise Tolbert wasn’t the first to shoot, he wasn’t the second to shoot, and when he did it was only because he was trying to save her life,” he said. said Gause, who claimed his client fired 10 bullets from his .380 caliber handgun in self-defense.
Jurors saw video clips of the mass shooting, crime scene photos and footage of Tolbert and Tolliver flashing gang signs in Las Vegas, where they were arrested nine days after the shooting. They were told they would watch the videos several times during Tolbert’s trial before Judge Melinda Young, which is expected to conclude in mid-September. Only 12 jurors will participate in the deliberations, the others serving as alternates.
In his opening statement, Gevers showed jurors a photo of Tolbert purchasing an extended magazine from Rainier Arms, an armory in Auburn, four hours before the shooting.
The magazine doubled the capacity of Tolbert’s .380 handgun from six bullets to 12. At the time of purchase, Tolbert was seen talking on the phone with Tolliver, Gevers said, adding that the two called each other several times over the next two hours before they met in downtown Seattle.
They arrived at Third Avenue and Pine Street a little after 4 p.m. Gunfire broke out less than an hour later.
After his arrest in Las Vegas, Tolbert told police he was not at the scene and it was mistaken identity, Gevers said Thursday.
She said video evidence shows Tolbert and Tolliver were told Jackson was inside McDonald’s, his usual haunt on the southeast corner of the intersection. The defense, however, said it was Jackson who learned his rivals were in the area.
Gevers, the prosecutor, said Tolliver was the first to draw his gun and shoot Jackson. But Gause said Jackson was the one who aggressively confronted Tolbert and Tolliver and drew his gun before Tolliver “freaked out” and fired the first shot at Jackson.
Gevers said Jackson “fired five rounds” from his 9mm handgun as he ran east on Pine, and that Tolbert and Tolliver, who were running south on Third, fired weapons indiscriminately. .380 and .40 caliber handguns over their shoulders after Jackson was no longer in sight, randomly shooting six people on the crowded sidewalk.
Gause, the defense attorney, said Tolbert only started shooting after a few bullets from Jackson whistled past him, hitting a subway bus twice, with a third ricocheting off the sidewalk.
Based on shell casings found at the scene, Tolbert fired 10 rounds, Tolliver fired
nine, and Jackson fired at least five times, according to attorneys.
Tanya Jackson, 50, who is not related to Jamel Jackson, was seen on video crossing Third Avenue before collapsing outside McDonald’s, where she died from a gunshot wound.
A woman in a wheelchair and with a small dog in her lap was shot three times in the abdomen and nearly died, while a 9-year-old boy from Bremerton walked to the ferry terminal with his family after a day trip a day in the Pacific. Science Center suffered a fractured femur and collapsed near a lamppost, jurors were told.
A man on his way to a basketball game and two Amazon employees on their way home from work also suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.
The boy’s father and other surviving gunshot victims, including Jamel Jackson, are among the witnesses expected to testify.