Howard University freshman Alonzo Guyton felt so fortunate to have musical skills, ministering abilities and close friends that he had the word “blessed” tattooed in large letters across his chest.
A photo of the tattoo — which prosecutors say represents a promising life cut short — was shown in a Prince George’s County courtroom Monday as the trial for the two men accused of killing Guyton began.
Guyton’s girlfriend and father were among several witnesses whom state prosecutors called to testify in the case against 20-year-old Michael A. Jordan and 22-year-old William A. Knight. Guyton’s father talked about how his son was a U.S. Marine who wanted to become a music professor.
Jordan and Knight have been charged with first-degree murder in what authorities say was a robbery that turned fatal. Guyton, 24, was found shot in October 2011 outside of a Mount Rainier apartment complex in Prince George’s County. Authorities think he was walking to a friend’s house the evening he was killed.
“He was a social butterfly at Howard,” said Qianne Knox, Guyton’s girlfriend, who added that she last saw her boyfriend at church on a Sunday. He was killed the next day, she said.
The couple met when Guyton started a gospel group in the summer of 2009, Knox testified. She said Guyton wrote songs for the ensemble, which performed in churches throughout Washington, Maryland and Virginia.
Christopher Filmore, the man who discovered Guyton’s body, also testified. Filmore told jurors he was watching “Monday Night Football” in his Mount Rainier apartment when he heard the sound of a single gunshot. After hearing a car speed off, he looked out of his kitchen window and saw a body on the ground. Guyton was wearing a Howard University sweatshirt, Filmore said.
Weaving testimony from Filmore and two police officers, state prosecutors suggested that Jordan, Knight and at least one other man conspired to rob Guyton. After the shooting, authorities say, they fled in a stolen van but crashed into a parked car in the District near the Prince George’s border. The men are accused of bailing from the van, which police officers testified held weapons that were the same type as those that left a magazine and shell casing discovered at the shooting scene.
In their opening statements, attorneys for Jordan and Knight said that prosecutors are simply painting a narrative and projecting theories and that there is not enough evidence to convict the men of felony murder.
“At the end of the day, the forensic evidence tells a story,” said Thomas C. Mooney, the attorney for Jordan.
Knight’s attorney, Keith Parris, said the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Knight and Jordan plotted the robbery against Guyton.
“There was no plan,” Parris said. “There was no conspiracy.”
Attorneys expect it could take two to three weeks to reach a conclusion in the case. The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.