Jury Convicts Man In Pontiac Street Shooting Case
By: James Kinsella
A Barnstable Superior Court jury this afternoon found Browning M. Mejia guilty of two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a handgun, but acquitted him of four counts of armed assault to murder.
Judge Gary A. Nickerson sentenced Mr. Mejia, 20, of Mashpee to nine to 10 years in state prison, with 20 years of probation to run concurrent with and then after he completes his prison sentence.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated close to six hours over yesterday and today before rendering their verdict.
The prosecution argued that Mr. Mejia set up an armed attack in Hyannis on January 15, 2009, on a parked car with four occupants, two of whom received non-fatal wounds. No one else has been charged in the crime.
Jurors were scheduled to resume their deliberations this morning in Barnstable Superior Court on whether Mr. Mejia, then 18, had anything to do with the bullets that riddled a Chevrolet Impala—with four people inside—in January 2009.
Mr. Mejia, 20, of Mashpee was charged with four counts of armed assault to murder and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a handgun, following the attack, which took place on Pontiac Street in Hyannis on the wintry evening of January 15, 2009.
No one else has been charged in the crime.Police investigators found that 10 bullets, discharged from three guns of different caliber, were fired into the car.
Two of the four people in the car—the driver, Thomas Walwer, and one of the passengers, a man named Neiyamia Jackson—were wounded in the assault.
Mr. Walwer was hit twice in the leg and once in the arm. Mr. Jackson, who was next to Mr. Walwer, was hit in the back.
The remaining two passengers in the car—Christine S. Ferreira and Kristen L. Asack, who were in the back seat—were not hit.
In a trial that began Monday, the prosecutor, assistant district attorney Jennifer Bright, argued that Mr. Mejia set up the attack.
He was charged under the joint enterprise theory for allegedly participating in the plan even if he was not a shooter.
Mr. Mejia’s defense attorney, Peter A. Lloyd of Barnstable, argued that no direct evidence tied his client to the crime.
Ms. Ferreira, who is incarcerated on a different case, was given immunity on her testimony.
A month before the attack, Ms. Ferreira testified, she was working at the Dunkin Donuts store on North Street in Hyannis when some tension arose between Mr. Walwer, Mr. Jackson and her then-boyfriend, Corey Rathburn, and a group of local young people.
The trio then drove away in the Impala.
On the afternoon of January 15, 2009, she testified, she, Mr. Walwer and Mr. Jackson—Mr. Rathburn subsequently had been jailed—picked Ms. Asack up at her home in Yarmouthport.
She said she and Ms. Asack proceeded to get in touch by cell phone with Mr. Mejia to arrange the purchase of marijuana by the foursome.
About 6:30 PM or so, the group traveled in the Impala to the Cape Glen condominium complex on West Main Street where she said they bought marijuana from Mr. Mejia.
In previous grand jury testimony, she had said the transaction was with another individual, Denzel Chisholm.
The four then left, driving to Yarmouth, but became unhappy with the quality of the marijuana.
Ms. Ferreira got in touch with Mr. Mejia, who told them to meet him on Pontiac Street, a dead-end residential street off West Main Street.
They drove to the end and turned around.
Ms. Ferreira said Mr. Mejia came up to the car window, patted himself down, said he must had left the marijuana “in the house,” and went away on foot.“
About five to seven minutes later, we saw kids at the top of the road, and we got shot at,” she testified.
She thought there were about four or five of the young people, and that 15 to 20 shots were fired.
Ms. Asack testified that she felt glass on her face from the windshield, which was struck by a bullet. She heard screaming and moaning.
Though Mr. Walwer was wounded, he drove to Cape Cod Hospital, where both he and Mr. Jackson were treated.
Police investigation showed that the vehicle was struck by .32-caliber, .40-caliber and 9-millimeter bullets.
Shell casings corresponding to the bullets were found on Pontiac Street.
The .32-caliber handgun used in the assault was found during the execution of a search warrant January 23, 2009, at 55 Nautical Road, where Denzel Chisholm and his brother, Kenneth, were living.
Barnstable Police Detective Brian Guiney testified that he saw Mr. Mejia coming and going from that address on January 19, 2009.
Near the start of the trial, Ms. Bright began to question Mr. Walwer, but he almost immediately claimed a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, opening the possibility of a mistrial.
After consulting with Mr. Mejia, Mr. Lloyd chose not to request a mistrial.
The jurors at the trial got the case shortly after noon yesterday.In a note sent to Judge Gary A. Nickerson about 4:30 PM, the jury foreman said the jury had made some progress, but needed to return this morning. Judge Nickerson granted the request.