Kenneth Todd Gresham, left, attorney Marcia Fuller, Kenneth Lamar Gresham and attorney Gerald Griggs during court Tuesday morning. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier denied a defense motion for a mistrial Monday after a detective slipped and identified a defendant’s photo as his mugshot.
Half-brothers Kenneth Todd Gresham, 29, of Conley and Kenneth Lamar Gresham, 27, of Atlanta and their cousin, Mashawn Anthonio Gresham, 28, of Riverdale, are charged with multiple murder, aggravated assault and weapons violations in barber John “Dred” Goodrum’s death. Prosecutors said Goodrum was caught in the crossfire between the three men and a fourth, Keyon Butler, during an altercation at an April 2012 birthday barbecue at Demetrius Brown’s home.
Previous witnesses testified that Goodrum was inside the house cutting hair and stepped outside to get a plate of grilled chicken when he was shot and killed.
Clayton County police Detective John Gosart spent most of Monday afternoon on the stand, explaining the investigation that led to the trio’s arrests. When Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers asked him to identify a photo of Mashawn Gresham, Gosart referred to it as a “mugshot,” tipping off jurors to a previous arrest.
Mashawn Gresham’s defense attorney, Marcia Fuller, asked for a mistrial outside the presence of the jury.
“It really has prejudiced him in a way that cannot be changed with a curative instruction,” said Fuller. “You can’t un-ring a bell.”
But Powers said the reference was an accident.
“It was not deliberate elicitation by the state to put the defendant’s character in question,” she said. “We will say it was a mugshot from this arrest.”
Defendants have the right against prejudice of character and are allowed to wear regular clothes as opposed to an orange jumpsuit to trial, if they are jail inmates, not be handcuffed or shackled and to be brought in from the jail and be seated before jurors enter the courtroom. In most cases, jurors aren’t allowed to know a defendant’s past criminal history during the trial phase.
The attorneys bantered back and forth before Collier ruled that, while the reference should not have been made, it didn’t rise to the level of a mistrial.
Gosart’s testimony mostly concerned statements and behavior of witnesses, several of whom have expressed fear and retaliation for their involvement.
“It’s very common for witnesses to not be cooperative during a murder investigation,” he said.
One witness, Zhennette McKinney, gave testimony Monday that conflicted with statements she gave to Gosart, testified Gosart. McKinney, who was a neighbor to the party house, said on the stand that she’d stepped out to smoke a cigarette and heard gunshots. However, she testified that a tree stood in her line of vision, which wasn’t clear because she didn’t have her contact lenses in. She also made several references to hearsay evidence, claiming that she had no direct knowledge of the suspects involved.
That’s not what she told Gosart, he said.
“She said it was what she saw, no trees or vision problems, it was not what someone told her they saw,” said Gosart. “She identified Kenneth Todd Gresham as ‘KD.’ She was very certain.”
McKinney said she talked to Gosart at Home Depot because she didn’t want her children or neighbors to see her interviewed by police. She even brought a bodyguard with her to court Monday, explaining why under cross-examination by Kenneth Todd Gresham’s attorney, Karlyn Skall.
“I was summoned as a witness in a murder trial,” said McKinney. “I have an attorney as well. It seemed protocol to have legal representation and someone to accompany me to court.”
McKinney testified to taking a cell phone photo of KD at a convenience store — the photo was introduced as evidence — but it wasn’t clear why she took the photo. In court, McKinney told Skall she didn’t recognize her client, Kenneth Todd Gresham.
Tuesday’s testimony kicked off with a medical examiner from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Dr. Steven Atkinson. Atkinson identified autopsy photos of Goodrum and testified that he died from a single gunshot wound to his upper right back. The bullet exited above Goodrum’s right nipple after traveling through his lung.
Witnesses who followed Atkinson were GBI toxicologists who testified that Goodrum’s blood alcohol level was .078, slightly less than the limit for DUI in Georgia, and they detected no drugs in his system.
At 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, the state rested its case. At press time, Skall said she “hoped” to present witnesses but was unsure. Fuller also said she was unsure if she would have defense witnesses. Kenneth Lamar Gresham’s attorney, Gerald Griggs, told Collier he would have witnesses.
It was unclear at press time if the defendants would testify or exercise their right to remain silent.
They face a minimum of life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted of murder.