A State’s witness who testified Monday ahead of the first-degree murder trial of Nashid Porter was placed in protective custody last November. At the time, Porter was out on pre-trial release and wanted in connection with the first-degree murder of another witness, according to District Attorney Ben David.
Porter, 37, of Wallace, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 32-year-old Brian Theodus Grant at a home on in the 900 block of North 30th Street in Wilmington on July 27, 2012.
Porter’s first-degree murder trial was scheduled to get underway June 1 without a key State’s witness, Obediah Hester IV, 27, who was gunned down in Duplin County last November, two months before the trial was originally scheduled. The trial was delayed after Porter was charged with first-degree murder in Hester’s death.
The district attorney’s office has asked media not to release the name of the witness who testified Monday for her safety. The witness was scheduled to appear in Pender County Superior Court on June 18, but did not show up to court.
In a packed courtroom Monday in New Hanover County Superior Court, the witness told the court she was sick the day she was set to testify in Pender County. But when cross examined by Porter’s attorney, the witness responded: “The reason I haven’t been showing up [to court] is because I’ve been threatened.”
The witness lived in the in the 900 block of North 30th Street in July 2012 and saw Porter in front of Grant’s home the day he was killed, she testified. Grant was staying with his girlfriend at the time, who lived near the witness. She knew Hester and Porter, and had seen Porter–who was staying at Hester’s home–more than seven times the week of Grant’s death.
The morning Grant was killed, the witness said she saw Grant–whom she calls B.G.–take his girlfriend to work. That was when she said Porter went across the street to Grant’s girlfriend’s house, took a chair off the porch and sat in the yard.
“He…pulled a chair off her porch and waited on B.G. to pull back up, I guess,” the witness said. “B.G. pulled up. Nashid was still in the chair. B.G. had walked in the house. Nashid got up out the chair, knocked on the door…B.G. went to answer the door. When he answered the door, I heard gunshots.”
The witness stated that she heard a couple of shots and then saw Porter drive off in his car.
“After he sped off I ran over there to see if [Grant] was alright. And he wasn’t. He was laying there dead,” she said.
“Did he have a chance to receive help at all?” Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan asked. “No,” the witness replied.
Capital Public Defender Nora Hargrove, the attorney representing Porter, questioned the witness about her proximity to the home.
“How far away were you from the shooting when it took place?…have any idea?” Hargrove asked. “No,” replied the witness.
“Now you couldn’t see when Mr. Grant came to the door?” Hargrove asked. “No, because of the way [the house] is sitting. You could see the chair on the front porch…[Porter] was in the front yard,” the witness said.
The witness’ testimony was video recorded so it could be preserved for trial if something were to happen, David said.
Judge grants defense attorney’s motion to withdraw
On Monday, Judge Kenneth Crow granted Hargrove’s motion to withdraw from the case. Hargrove was set to represent Porter in the both the first-degree murder cases.
“We think…Mr. Porter is engaging in only a delay tactic in firing his attorney,” David argued. “We would ask for…Hargrove to respectfully stay on this case–at a minimum as standby council–and the court be allowed to docket this case for trial that is going on its three-year anniversary.”
David argued that Hargrove was able to represent Porter in court effectively. But Hargrove said attempts to work with Porter in the case have not been successful outside the courtroom.
“Your honor when I went to the holding cell this morning, Mr. Porter repeated that he did not want me to be his lawyer–that he wanted representation, but not my representation.”
“But in the past—I guess—three weeks, he has refused to see me, he’s refused to see my expert [doctors]…he goes on to a rant about the Sixth Amendment, about the 16th Amendment, that I released his discovery, that I sent his discovery to the newspaper…he’s delusional in that respect,” Hargrove said.
Porter is ready to proceed with a different lawyer, Hargrove said.
“I feel that I would not have a fair trial with [Hargrove]. Because…my disclosure leaked out to the media, leaked out to federal witnesses, and leaked out to the witness today that testified,” Porter said to the court.
Crow expressed his concern that Porter would try to fire his attorney again, if he issued another. Crow cautioned Porter that such actions could forfeit his right to a court-appointed attorney.
Porter said he would be able to start fresh if he were appointed another attorney.
“I’ve had public defenders before and I never fired…one. So with my record dealing with the courts–and you can look at my records dealing with the courts and the public defenders I’ve had–I never fired one,” Porter said.
Crow directed Hargrove to find replacement counsel in the case. A new attorney has not yet been determined. A trial date in the case has not been set, but David said he would like set a date for trial before the end of the year.
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