A teenager who described the shooting death of her 21-year-old friend during a capital murder trial on Tuesday said that she feared for her own life during the slaying in 2016.
Prosecutors have accused the defendant, Latharian Merritt, 24, of Long Beach, Calif., of killing Ethan Walker, father of a 3-year-old daughter, during a botched home invasion robbery that led to the arrest of six other youths in the July 2016 slaying at a residence in the 1500 block of Aspen Court in Mansfield.
The case gained national attention because of the alleged involvement of a popular local rapper, Taymor "Tay-K 47" McIntyre, 17, of McKinney.
The teen on the stand Tuesday, who the Star-Telegram is not identifying because she was only 15 at the time of the slaying, said Walker was playing video games and she was on her phone when a masked man wearing a hoodie burst into the room and ordered them both to the ground.
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The man waved a gun around, not pointing it at anything in particular, she testified.
"Where's the [drugs]?" the gunman said, according to the now 17-year-old girl's testimony. The girl said the gunman took their cellphones and then demanded again: "Where's the [drugs]?"
After the second demand, Walker responded by saying there was nothing there, the witness said. The gunman was two to three feet away, she testified.
"And then the man shot him," the 17-year-old said. "I was very scared. It was the first time I had ever seen someone get shot."
The masked man darted out of the bedroom door while Walker began crawling toward the same door, leaving a trail of blood and murmuring for help, the girl testified. The girl testified that she told Walker that she did not know what to do and hid in the bedroom closet.
Another man who was in the house ran into the room, reached under the mattress and grabbed a gun that was there for protection. When she heard that man go out of the front door, she told the jury, she came out of the closet and ran into the bathroom shower.
On her way to the bathroom, the girl testified that she grabbed a phone that was on the bed. Another boy was hiding in the bathroom closet, and they called 911 together, the girl said.
"I was trying to call 911 but I was shaking so bad he had to do it," the girl testified.
The last time she saw Walker, he was on the floor, half in the hallway and half in the doorway, the girl said. A friend of theirs went to the hospital the next day to check on Walker's condition, then posted on social media that he was dead, she said.
"I was confused," the girl testified. "I didn't know what to do. I just wanted to get help."
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday in State District Judge Wayne Salvant's court.
Three juveniles and four adults were arrested in connection with Walker's slaying, but the alleged involvement of Taymor "Tay-K 47" McIntyre has drawn national attention.
McIntyre and a juvenile co-defendent, Jalen Bell, cut off their ankle monitors while awaiting their certification hearings and fled, triggering a national manhunt. While fugitives, McIntyre and Bell became suspects in an April 2017 robbery and fatal shooting of a 23-year-old man at a San Antonio Chick-fil-A, for which both are now held on a separate capital murder charge.
The notoriety gained from his arrest seemed to energize McIntyre's rap career.
One girl who was also a juvenile when the offense was committed and who is not being identified, was sentenced by a juvenile judge to 20 years detainment.
The remaining adult co-defendants, Sean Robinson, Ariana Bharrat and Megan Holt, are in Tarrant County jail awaiting trial.
This story includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.