A 14-year-old Bladensburg youth shot and robbed a pizza deliveryman in February, then told friends the shooting was an accident, a Prince George's County prosecutor said yesterday during his opening statement in the murder trial of Travis Lionel Savoy.
Savoy is believed to be the youngest person ever charged as an adult with first-degree murder in Prince George's County--one of two shooting deaths in which he's charged. His attorney argued that he implicated himself only to cover for another young man who pulled the trigger.
But Assistant State's Attorney William M. Manico told jurors it was Savoy who pulled a hood over his head Feb. 17, knocked on the driver's-side window of deliveryman Javier Eduardo Castillo's car and leveled a .32-caliber revolver at his victim outside a Bladensburg apartment complex.
"You can imagine the fright [Castillo] must have faced" before he was shot in the chest, Manico told jurors.
Mortally wounded, the Peruvian immigrant drove a short distance before the car crashed into a fence, Manico said. Savoy, who had robbed Castillo of some of his money, then went into an apartment and told friends and associates he had accidentally shot the deliveryman, he said.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Antoini M. Jones said Savoy took the fall for the real shooter because he believed he was too young to be charged as an adult with murder and face adult penalties.
In addition to the Castillo slaying, Savoy is charged with first-degree murder in an unrelated homicide a month earlier. Savoy is charged with fatally shooting Dominick Elliout Hiers, 16, of Cheverly. Hiers, a former classmate of Savoy's, was shot to death inside the building where Savoy lives.
Police and prosecutors believe Savoy shot Hiers in an argument over a gun.
In testimony yesterday, two friends or associates of Savoy's testified that after Castillo delivered two pizzas to the apartment where they were, the teenager asked whether Castillo carried much money, then followed the deliveryman to his car. Savoy had been drinking just before the attack, according to testimony.
The two people in the apartment with Savoy testified that moments after Savoy followed Castillo outside, they heard a gunshot.
Savoy then returned to the apartment and said the shooting was an accident, Sherri Canaday, 19, testified. Savoy took some of the pizza in the apartment and left, Canaday testified.
Jones, the defense attorney, accused Melvin J. Bryant, Canaday's boyfriend, of being the killer. Bryant, 19, testified that he left the apartment on an errand as Castillo arrived.
Asked why he initially told police he didn't see Savoy with a gun, then later said he did see the teenager with a gun inside the apartment, Bryant, who was questioned by detectives for 18 consecutive hours, testified that he was afraid police would charge him in connection with the slaying.
"They told me they wouldn't let me go until they found the murderer," Bryant testified.
"You'd tell the police anything so you wouldn't be charged?" Jones asked.
"Right," Bryant said.