Defense To Begin in “21st and Vietnam” Murder Trial Next Week

Prosecutors in the ongoing “21st and Vietnam” murder trial have concluded presenting their evidence in the case, barring the testimony of a witness who has been uncooperative and is currently being held in jail for contempt of court.

That witness, 22-year-old Amber Middleton, took the witness stand Monday in handcuffs and again refused to answer Judge Henry Greene, the courtroom clerk, or prosecutors. It was the fifth time that Middleton has refused to testify at trial.

Prosecutors believe Middleton has information related to the December 2011 shooting death of Steven Curtis Moore. She was held last week on a charge of obstructing justice for refusing to testify in the case.

Greene said Monday that he didn’t want to charge Middleton in connection with the case, and prosecutors said they would dismiss charges against Middleton if she testified. Middleton’s defense attorney, Neal Floyd, argued in court Monday that Middleton may choose to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights.

Greene said he suspects Middleton is “either apprehensive about me or about other folks in the courtroom, and I have to assume it’s the latter.”

The prosecution’s case has stretched over the past five weeks. Through witness testimony and other evidence, prosecutors have argued that Anthony Hatton, Jekwan Smith, Johnnie Harris, and Stanley Moghalu belong to a group called “21st and Vietnam” and that the men are guilty of conspiracy and murder in connection with the deaths of Tyrell Fogle, Isaiah Sheffield and Steven Moore.

Fogle was killed Aug. 29, 2011, in the 1900 block of Bennett Place Northeast.

During the prosecution’s case, Delrico Shuford testified that he used to be affiliated with “21st and Vietnam,” which is named after an area near 21st and I Street Northeast where the group packaged and sold drugs from abandoned apartments.

Duringthe prosecution’s case, Shuford testified to Fogle’s death, which was reported Aug. 29, 2011 in the 1900 block of Bennett Place, Northeast.

Shuford said Fogle’s death was due to a “beef” between 21st and Vietnam and another crew, “E Street.” Shuford, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed in connection with Fogle’s death, said he was present when Fogle was shot and killed. But the lone shooter, Shuford testified, was Hatton.

An MPD officer who witnessed the shooting, Ryan Anselmo, also testified that Hatton “was the only one shooting” at the time he approached the incident. Anselmo said that Hatton ran into the headlights of his police car wearing a black mask. Officers then chased Hatton into a field and arrested him, Anselmo said.

The trial is on recess until August 5 when defense attorneys will present their case.

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