Jurors in Danville woman's murder trial shown video of 2017 slaying

Jurors in Danville woman's murder trial shown video of 2017 slaying

DANVILLE — A Vermilion County jury on Tuesday watched video footage of the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old Danville man outside a grocery store by the Fair Oaks public housing complex nearly 11 months ago.

In the video taken in the early afternoon of April 27, a woman wearing a white shirt is seen walking up to a small group in the parking lot of Nettas Grocery, 1618 E. Fairchild St. Seconds later, she raises a gun toward a man, and the man falls forward onto the ground.

After the video was shown, Danville police Detective Phil Wilson identified the woman as Lakeisha Cunningham in a series of still photographs taken from the video.

Wilson also testified that the day after Cunningham's arrest for the murder of Justin E. Jones, she admitted to driving her mother's car to the store, getting out of the car and telling Mr. Jones to "give my baby her (expletive) keys." When he refused, she shot him.

Wilson was one of 11 witnesses who testified on the first day of the 39-year-old Danville woman's murder trial, which resumes today.

But some of the strongest evidence against her came from the video, taken from a Danville Housing Authority video-surveillance camera across the street.

Using the still photographs and video timestamps, Wilson — under questioning by State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy — testified that Cunningham got out of a car at 12:43:14 p.m. She pointed a gun, seen in her left hand, at Mr. Jones 10 seconds later.

After Mr. Jones fell to the ground, Cunningham's daughter, Lakeisha Booker, picked a set of car keys off of the ground.

Twenty seconds later, Booker drove off in a gold GMC Envoy, and Cunningham drove off in a gray Toyota.

The video also showed Mr. Jones pick himself up after falling to the ground and getting into the rear passenger side of another car. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of a gunshot wound around 2 p.m. that day.

Also at the trial, witnesses John Johnson, Keshwanda Stennis and Shakilya Sartin, of Danville, each testified that prior to the shooting, they observed an accident in Nettas' parking lot involving an SUV and Mr. Jones' Monte Carlo.

Stennis said she had left the store and was heading to her friend's car when she saw a vehicle back into Mr. Jones' car. She said Mr. Jones and his passengers got out of his car, as did the male driver and female passenger of the SUV.

"He was speaking with him," Stennis said, referring to Mr. Jones and the other driver. "Like, 'You hit my car. Could you just give me $40 for it?'"

Stennis said the male driver ran off, but his female passenger, who was upset, remained. She saw the girl use her phone, then watched a gray car pull up.

"A lady came out of the car," Stennis told Assistant State's Attorney Aadam Alikhan. "She had a gun in her hand. She shot him."

Before the shooting, Stennis said, she heard the shooter say, "Give me my daughter's keys back."

Stennis said Mr. Jones wasn't armed. When Alikhan asked her if Mr. Jones struck or threatened the shooter, she said "no."

Stennis said she watched the two women get into their cars and drive off. She said she told the shooter, "You're going to jail! Why would you do that?" before she drove off.

Sartin, who was emotional throughout her testimony, said she saw Mr. Jones take the keys to the SUV from the ignition.

"They were trying to flee the scene," Sartin recalled through tears. "He said, 'I can't let you all leave without ... you all paying for what you did. You wrecked my car.'"

Sartin said she saw the girl get on her phone. Then another vehicle "came in fast."

"She hopped out in an angry rage," Sartin said of Cunningham, whom she pointed out in the courtroom.

Sartin said Mr. Jones tried to explain he wanted to exchange information with the SUV's owner, but Cunningham wouldn't listen and demanded he turn over the keys.

"He couldn't even say what he was trying to say, and she pulled the trigger," Sartin said.

Also at the trial:

— Danville police Officer Eric Kizer testified he attended Mr. Jones' autopsy in Bloomington the day after the shooting. He identified a bullet that was recovered from Mr. Jones' body and photographs of the procedure that he took, which showed a bullet wound on the right side of Mr. Jones' neck.

— Danville police Officer Travis Spain, who is also a member of the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force, testified that police began searching for Cunningham the day of the shooting. He said she was located at her aunt's house in Dolton (Cook County), where she was taken into custody on May 17.

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