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Friend of homicide victim Na'Gus Griggs refuses to testify at trial
The first time Carlos Ramos, self-described friend of York City homicide victim Na'Gus Griggs, abandoned the 18-year-old, Griggs was dying of a gunshot wound to his head. Ramos has admitted he didn't even call 911 — he simply fled the area of the shooting, despite being a short drive from two hospitals.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Ramos abandoned Griggs again, this time symbolically.
Called to the witness stand by the prosecution in the first-degree murder trial of Daequahn "Dae-Dae" Jones, Ramos seemed to have contracted amnesia.
Asked by chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch where the shooting happened, Ramos said, "I don't remember."
Asked if he stopped his car at the corner of South Pine and East Princess streets moments before Griggs, his passenger, was fatally shot, Ramos replied, "I don't remember." In fact, he said he couldn't remember much of what happened.
"I know I lost a friend," he said. "But I had to forget it to help me."
Contempt at issue: He then stopped answering questions altogether, including refusing to state the name of his slain friend. His response to Maisch's subsequent questions was silence.
"I'm not trying to relive this," Ramos said.
"Are you refusing to answer questions?" presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness asked.
Ramos confirmed the judge's suspicions, prompting Ness to order the handcuffed Ramos led back to a holding cell by deputies.
The judge said he will schedule a hearing to determine whether he should hold Ramos in contempt of court.
Maisch requested that Ramos' defense attorney be allowed to sit down with Ramos to explain the ramifications of his refusal to testify, apparently a reference to possible lenience in Ramos' two pending drug-dealing cases. But the judge dismissed the idea.
"I'm not going to delay trial because he refused to answer questions," Ness said.
Transcript read: Instead, he had Ramos' testimony from Jones' preliminary hearing read into the record. At that hearing, held Nov. 9, 2014, Ramos did answer questions put to him by prosecutors.
Ramos said he was driving his mom's car, with Griggs in the passenger seat and Niam Jamison in the back, when they stopped at a red light at Pine and Princess streets about 7 p.m. Sept. 8, 2014.
During that hearing, presiding District Judge Ron Haskell Jr. confirmed Ramos is from York City and knows the area, then pointed out the men were less than two miles from York and Memorial hospitals when Griggs was shot.
Abandoned: Haskell noted "it needed to be said" that Ramos and Jamison abandoned their dying friend instead of rushing him to the hospital.
After Ramos finished testifying at the preliminary hearing, Haskell announced in court that he and a deputy witnessed what he described as "an acknowledgment" or "thank you" of some sort between Ramos and Jones' co-defendant, Troyvon Breeland, who is expected to testify against Jones this week for leniency in his own case.
Breeland twice told Jones, "Let that thing ring" before Jones allegedly shot and killed Griggs, police allege.
Also testifying at trial Wednesday was a 17-year-old from York City, who said he was hanging out at the corner with Jones, Breeland and others when Ramos pulled up to the red light.
The teen said he had a gun tucked in his waistband that Jones had handed to him earlier. When Jones saw the car, he grabbed the gun from the teen's waistband and started shooting into the car, he testified.
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.
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, now 19, 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.