The trial of the man accused of gunning down a Lufkin woman in the street began Tuesday with images from surveillance footage and the initial 911 call.
Witnesses told Lufkin police that Andre Montrel Woods, 23, shot Ashleigh Elijah twice on Chester Street on May 18, 2018, before fleeing into a nearby wooded area. Police arrested him later that day.
State District Judge Paul White opened the trial by discussing regulations with the jury and sequestering witnesses. Afterward, assistant District Attorney Sandra Martin made her opening arguments. Martin and Ken Dies, who are both assistant district attorneys, are prosecuting the case.
Martin detailed the incident in her presentation and commented on the 911 call that was made afterward. She said Woods wasn’t named in the call; instead, one of Elijah’s friends gave his name to an officer on the scene.
“He did this in full view of (Woods’) mother and his neighbors,” Martin said. “What is the relationship? What’s going on here where people won’t speak up on someone who has been gunned down? Why not?”
Martin said Woods’ mother participated in the 911 call and withheld information.
“The person attending the victim is Lisa Woods, Andre Woods, the defendant’s, mother,” Martin said. “She saw what happened. She didn’t want to tell.”
Martin also said a neighbor came forward to give the state surveillance footage of the incident, which the prosecution intends to show during the trial.
Images from that footage were presented at trial, as was the initial 911 call between dispatchers and Shirley Ray, the first witness called to testify. She is the mother of one of Elijah’s friends. Woods’ mother and Ray’s daughter can be heard in the call as well.
“This was not sudden passion,” Martin said. “His words to her was, “(Expletive), I’ve got a good aim.”
Woods’ attorneys, Carter Meyers and John Reeves, also gave opening statements.
Meyers prefaced the defense’s arguments by asserting that the shooting was not an isolated incident; rather, tensions had been brewing beforehand. Meyers also said Elijah and Woods were previously in a relationship, information Ray corroborated in her testimony.
“It’s not a clean cut, cut and dry ‘this is it,’” Meyers said. “There was a lot of emotion involved in this case.”
Reeves said self-defense may have been a possibility to consider and that Elijah’s fiancé was with her when the incident occurred, only to leave during the chaos of the shooting. Ray testified that he said he had warrants and fled before officers arrived.
“Listen carefully, that’s what we’re asking you to do,” Reeves said.
At Dies’ behest, Ray went over the days proceeding the shooting.
She said the day before, Elijah had a bat and threatened to hit Woods after he apparently told others they were still involved in a relationship, and that Elijah’s friend was pregnant with his child. Ray said neither were true, and also said she believed Elijah was just making a point and wouldn’t have actually struck Woods.
Ray said Woods did not say anything or respond. Additionally, Elijah said to Woods that she had, “somebody for you.” Ray wasn’t sure what she meant by that statement.
The day of the shooting, Ray said she never saw Woods armed or holding anything. She said she didn’t witness the shooting happen, but left her home and saw Elijah after hearing the gunshots.
Ray said she didn’t name Woods in the 911 call because Woods’ mother was next to her. Meyers pointed out that while she said she knew it was Woods, she didn’t tell police. Later, she said she was afraid of Woods’ mother at the time.
The state also called LPD Lt. David Young, who went over the immediate response to the shooting.
Young said he spoke with others on the scene, who said they didn’t know what had happened. He later spoke with Ray’s daughter, who elaborated on what happened and named Woods as the suspect. Martin presented Young’s bodycam footage of the interview.
The court went into recess during Young’s testimony.