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Prosecution lays out its case of why a Danville man should be convicted in shooting
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Prosecution lays out its case of why a Danville man should be convicted in shooting

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Eighteen, 14, 19, nine, one, four. Those were the numbers Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Newman emphasized to the jury in Danville Circuit Court on Wednesday — and they were the first words out of his mouth during his opening statement in the trial of Antonio Terry. 

"Those aren't your winning lottery numbers," Newman told the jury on the first day of a trial that is expected to conclude Thursday.

Terry, 31, faces charges of first-degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and five counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle stemming from the July 26, 2019, fatal shooting of 30-year-old Keenan Cunningham while Cunningham was sitting in the driver's side of this vehicle on Hughes Street. 

There were 18 bullet casings at the scene, 14 bullet fragments removed from Cunningham, 17 wound paths in his body, a 9-millimeter weapon used to commit the crime, with all of the bullets shot from one gun, Newman said. 

The incident was reported at about 3:30 a.m. July 26, after Terry, Cunningham and a third man, Lateze Barnes, had returned from a sweepstakes gaming facility in Ruffin, N.C..  

Barnes, who has known Terry and Cunningham for about 15 years, testified for the prosecution that they went to Ruffin to gamble, with Cunningham driving, Terry in the passenger's side and Barnes in the back of a Chevrolet sports-utility vehicle.

Cunningham was driving recklessly, reaching 90 to 100 miles per hour, on the way back to Danville, Barnes testified.

Cunningham stopped the vehicle on Stokesland Avenue because Terry wanted to be dropped off. 

"Keenan said, 'You're going with me,'" Barnes said. 

After they arrived at Hughes Street, Barnes said he got out of the vehicle on the passenger's side. 

"I heard some shots," he testified. He said he ran toward the back of the vehicle and headed home toward Chatham Avenue but heard three or four gun shots.

"I glanced back," he told the jury, adding that he saw flames where Terry was standing at the right side of the vehicle. 

However, Barnes said, he didn't see a weapon but heard more shots as he ran away. 

At one point before the shooting, Terry had told Cunningham that he put Terry's life in danger with his reckless driving, Barnes testified. 

But defense attorney Jason Eisner said Barnes initially told police he only heard gun shots as he was running away but did not look back. 

"When he hears the shots, he doesn't look back to see who's shooting," Eisner told the jury during his opening statements. 

Eisner said a detective told Barnes to alter his story to claim he saw Terry fire one shot, or they would both be arrested.

A witness who was at the scene, Tamekia Branch, testified she was walking back to her Hughes Street apartment when she heard two car doors open and saw someone shooting into the air. 

During the day following the shooting, Terry visited Branch at her apartment, she said. 

"He said, 'What happened? Did the police come here?'" an emotional Branch testified, sobbing at the stand.

Eisner argued there was no premeditation in the allegation against Terry.

Eisner also said Barnes said he never saw a firearm, and the metal detectors at the sweepstakes gaming business did not detect a weapon.

"It sort of materializes out of nowhere," Eisner said of the weapon fired at Hughes Street.

He said there was no established malice, adding that Terry thought his life was in danger. 

But Judge Joseph Milam disagreed with Eisner on the lack of premeditation argument.

"We do have a weapon that was loaded ... and multiple shots," Milam pointed out.  

But there was premeditation, a specific intent to kill, Newman said. 

"What other intent do you have?" he said, pointing out the 18 shots that had been fired. 

Also, just because the metal detectors didn't pick up a weapon doesn't mean there wasn't a gun in the car, Newman said, adding that the vehicle was locked because it had a gun inside.  

The defense will continue with its case Thursday, and it was unclear when the jury might get the case for consideration.

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