More Testimony in SF Lesbian Murder Trial

  • by Seth Hemmelgarn
  • Saturday July 30, 2016
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The woman who survived the 2013 shooting that killed a friend near a gay San Francisco nightclub this week contradicted other friends' descriptions of the shooter.

The 25-year-old woman testified Monday in the trial of Michael Sione Green, 27, who faces murder, attempted murder, and other charges after the November 17, 2013 killing of Melquiesha "Mel" Warren, 23, a lesbian.

Assistant District Attorney Heather Trevisan rested her case Tuesday. On Wednesday, Eileen Burke, Green's attorney, delivered her opening statement, telling jurors that the evidence will show Green isn't the person who killed Warren. Burke said that among other differences, the shooter is 6 feet 8 inches tall, nine inches taller than Green.

She also said that the shooter was wearing a black top, while Green had worn royal blue that night.

Burke said that surveillance footage that appears to show Green wearing a black shirt with a white shirt underneath it is deceptive, because it was an infrared camera.

The shooting survivor, whose name the Bay Area Reporter isn't publishing because she's a crime victim, said that she, Warren, and other friends left Club OMG, 43 Sixth Street, around closing time that Sunday morning, and as she drove Warren into a parking lot at Sixth and Jessie streets, a man started walking toward them. (Another witness has indicated that man was Green.)

As Warren's friend slowly backed up, she said, she accidentally hit a parked car.

A woman came to her door "cussing me out," and the man who'd been walking "socked me" on the left side of the face, she said.

Warren got out of the car, and another man approached and "pointed a gun at me," Warren's friend said.

"I froze," she said.

The man then aimed his gun at Warren, who friends have testified was standing with her hands in the air, saying, "Wait."

"Then he pointed the gun back at me and started shooting me," said the woman, who'd still been strapped into her seat. She estimated he shot her nine to 10 times.

She passed out, and "another friend woke me up again and tried to basically keep me alive, talking to me," she said, occasionally dabbing her eyes with a tissue as she talked.

Warren's girlfriend, Tiffany Cohen-Carson, who witnessed the shooting, testified last week that the killer was a tall man with a long-sleeve black shirt, long hair, and distinctive eyebrows. Other witnesses gave similar descriptions.

The woman said Monday she couldn't recall now what the shooter or the man who'd hit her had been wearing.

But in previous statements, which she reviewed on the stand, she'd described the shooter as wearing a button-up shirt with red and blue that was striped or checked and had a white T-shirt underneath. She didn't remember if he'd been wearing a jacket.

She'd also previously stated that he was 6 feet 7 inches or 6 feet 8 inches tall, which is several inches taller than Green, who bowed his head a little but watched the woman's testimony.

She said that a man who's been identified as Green and is shown in video surveillance footage recorded just before the shooting was the assailant. In the footage, however, Green appears to be wearing a black long-sleeve shirt with a white T-shirt under it.

The woman said she told police that the man looked like the shooter, but his clothing didn't match. She identified Green by his facial hair, dreadlocks, and thick eyebrows, she said.

Singer's Testimony

Most of the people who've testified didn't actually see the crash, and the surviving victim's account was one of the only ones that described a man approaching her car just before the accident.

Funaki Moala, a singer who knew Green and who'd just performed at Club Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street, the night of the shooting, was another.

Moala testified earlier in the trial that she'd encountered Green in the parking lot after they left the club.

She said she was chatting with Green when a car "stopped in front of us as if we were in their way," and she motioned for the vehicle "to go around us."

But the car backed up, she said, and Green walked toward it.

"I was like, 'Leave it alone,'" Moala said. The vehicle backed up until it "clipped" a parked car.

Green "walked a little faster toward the car," she said. "... He looked like he was ready to fight."

Moala got distracted, though, and she didn't see what happened next. She said she heard 12 gunshots and hid behind a car. She didn't see the shooter, she said.

Marshella Ryan, another friend of Warren's who witnessed the killing, picked out the person identified as Green from the surveillance video and testified last week that she was "100 percent sure" it was him. She also identified him in court as the shooter.

Green, who's in custody on $50 million bail, fled to Florida after the shooting but was arrested there in May 2014 and extradited to San Francisco.

The trial, which started July 13, is expected to continue into early August.

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