Trial begins for Daequahn Jones, accused of killing Na'Gus Griggs in York
Eighteen-year-old Na'Gus Griggs had a gun just inches from him when he was shot and killed inside a car in York City more than a year ago.
But the handgun — a two-shot derringer — was in the glove compartment of the car in which Griggs was a passenger, chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch told jurors during his opening statement Monday in the first-degree murder trial of accused shooter Daequahn "Dae-Dae" Jones.
"(Griggs) was murdered for who he was — not for anything he did," Maisch said.
According to Maisch, Jones, 21, of York City, spotted Griggs in the car, pulled a handgun from the pants of an acquaintance and fired, hitting Griggs in the head.
But defense attorney Heather Reiner said Griggs did wield a gun that night.
"You're going to hear witnesses saying there were gunshots going both ways," Reiner told jurors. "You're going to hear a lot of conflicting information from the witness stand."
Jones' co-defendant, Troyvon Breeland, had his murder charges dropped in exchange for pleading no contest to witness intimidation. He is expected to testify against Jones.
The homicide: Jones and Breeland were among a crowd of people near the corner of East Princess and South Pine streets about 7 p.m. Sept. 8, 2014, when Griggs, Carlos Ramos and Niam Jamison drove through the area and stopped for a red light at the corner, according to preliminary hearing testimony.
At that hearing, an eyewitness testified that when Ramos, Griggs and Jamison pulled up to the light, Breeland twice said, "Let that thing ring."
Jones fired at Griggs immediately after Breeland made the statements, according to the witness, who said she saw Griggs' head snap to the side.
He was rushed to York Hospital, where he died several hours later, according to the York County Coroner's Office. Ramos testified he and Jamison abandoned their dying friend and fled.
Bad blood: Four days before he was fatally shot, Griggs, of the west end of York City, predicted he would die on the streets or spend his life in prison because people were angry at his younger brother.
Now 19, Flair Griggs was 16 when he fatally shot 17-year-old Joseph Gomez Jr. in self-defense outside the McDonald's on South George Street in April 2013.
Flair Griggs is serving a three- to seven-year prison sentence for illegal firearm possession and reckless endangerment. Murder charges were dropped.
At the end of Na'Gus Griggs' Facebook post predicting his own possible death, he wrote "#600" and used six cartoon images of handguns.
York City's west-end neighborhood gang, or "crew," calls itself the 600s or the 600 Boyz.
Na'Gus Griggs also played basketball for New Hope Academy and had hoped to attend college, according to his former coach, who said Griggs wanted to escape the streets but was conflicted.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.