Closing Arguments Begin in the Murder Trial of David and Montez Warren

Closing arguments began Monday in the case charging brothers Montez Warren and David Warren with the May 2011 shooting death of Ervin Lamont Griffin.

Prosecutors say Griffin was shot when he didn’t have anything to provide in a robbery. But defense attorneys have argued that the proof of that case is troubled.

On Monday afternoon, Montez Warren’s defense attorney, Madalyn Harvey, described the case as being fraught with witness issues.

“Montez Warren deserves a good investigation,” argued attorney Madalyn Harvey. “The government wants to manipulate the facts to their benefit.”

The Warrens are charged with 14 criminal counts in connection with Griffin’s death in an alley behind the 1200 block of 18th Place Northeast.

Prosecutors have argued that Griffin was shot when Montez Warren dragged him from his car at gunpoint, demanding money or property. When Griffin didn’t have anything to give, the brothers shot him in the neck.

“Montez met his brother and brought Ervin Griffin to the back of the alley armed with a firearm,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Shick. “Their actions showed that this was a well-orchestrated plan.”

Shick said Griffin was on 18th Street the day he was killed asking about buying drugs. Two of the people he asked testified that Griffin was directed to the alley where he met David Warren.

But witnesses called by prosecutors were either admitted liars or coerced by the police, according to Harvey. And one witness, Ronald Smith, is dead.

On the stand one of those witnesses, Damada Fields, told the jury that she did not feel safe telling the truth until trial because lead detective William Covington threatened her with charges of accessory to murder.

“I feel scared,” said Fields, who said the police are still watching her. Fields said that she heard an MPD officer talking to Detective Covington about her testimony.

Judge Rhonda Winston removed the officer from her courtroom during Fields’ testimony saying, “Everybody needs to feel the freedom to testify under oath.”

Detective Covington testified that he did not threaten Fields or tell her what to say during an interview. He also said that the entire interview was not recorded. Explaining when he decided to record Fields, Covington said he began by “getting a feel” for what Fields came to say, and then began recording once she started telling “the truth.”

Closing arguments will resume Tuesday and then the case will go to the jury.

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