Witness Says James Sandidge May Have Believed Keenan Lee Had a Gun

Day two in the James Sandidge murder trial began with Mikel Barnes testifying that he is “100 percent sure, no doubt in my mind” that Sandidge is the man who shot and killed Keenan Jerel Lee during an altercation in October 2011. Barnes also said that Lee’s behavior that night could have led someone to believe he had a gun.

Sandidge is charged with first-degree murder and related weapons offenses in connection with the death of 20-year-old Keenan Lee.

Barnes testified Tuesday that on Oct. 22, 2011, he, Raymond McLean and Lee went to Howard University’s homecoming to flirt with women. Barnes said they all had been drinking that evening and that Lee was “completely intoxicated.”

Barnes said that after a stop at McDonald’s, the group was parked near V Street and Georgia Avenue Northwest when three men, one of whom was Sandidge, approached them. Barnes told jurors that one of the men called out to them saying, “Looks like you got money.”

That’s how you supposed to look,” Barnes said he told the man in response.

Barnes testified that Lee laughed at the men, which led to a heated exchange of words between Lee and a “short man” from the other group. Meanwhile, Barnes and Sandidge, who were once classmates, shook hands and agreed the situation was “cool,” Barnes told the court.

Barnes said he and Sandidge told the men to calm down, and the situation appeared to be resolved. But as Sandidge and his friends turned to leave, Lee called out after them.

N—, f— you! You a b—,” Lee said, according to Barnes. In response, the short man approached Lee.

You look like you got that joint,” Lee said, Barnes told jurors, adding that “joint” was understood to mean gun. “Yeah, we do,” the shorter man replied.

Barnes testified Tuesday that the man got so close to Lee that Lee punched him, knocking the man to the ground.

But in a police interrogation video played in court Tuesday, Barnes tells detectives that after the man said he had a gun, Lee replied, “Oh you got the joint? Watch this, I got my s— too,” and then punched the man.

Barnes said he then turned and watched Sandidge fire four shots.

Jonathan Zucker, Sandidge’s defense attorney, asked Barnes if Lee’s statements could have led someone to “logically interpret that he’s going to get his gun.”

Barnes responded, “Yeah, I guess so.”

The trial is scheduled to resume in Judge Lynn Lebovitz’s courtroom Wednesday morning.

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