A Hennepin County jury began hearing about the death of a Minneapolis activist, who prosecutors say was killed by a man with whom he had a dispute. Defense attorneys contend the wrong man is on trial.
On the afternoon of April 3, 2018, Tyrone Williams read "The Foot Book" by Dr. Seuss with two of his young children before work. He'd just gotten a new job delivering groceries. Williams put on his coat, said good-bye to his family and stepped outside.
"We heard two shots," said Javon Westberry from the witness stand Tuesday in district court.
Westberry, the mother of three of Williams' four children, did not see the shooting, but said she remembered watching paramedics load Williams into an ambulance.
"He passed before they got there," Westberry said through tears.
According to the criminal charges, the shooting took place just outside Williams' mother's house in north Minneapolis. And prosecutors said the man who pulled the trigger was Sid Strickland-Green, 28.
In her opening statement, assistant Hennepin County Attorney Erin Lutz said days before the shooting, Strickland-Green confronted Williams at a Minneapolis bar. She said Strickland-Green brought up the dispute again, firing two shots at Williams. One bullet hit Williams in the leg. The fatal shot hit Williams in the abdomen.
Defense attorney Paul Applebaum said the wrong man is sitting in the defendant's seat in the courtroom. He said a different acquaintance of Williams is the killer. That acquaintance has not been charged in connection with the crime. And Applebaum told the jury of seven men and seven women that he will present evidence to show that Strickland-Green is not guilty.
The jury listened to emotional testimony about Williams' loss meant to his family.
"He was a good dad," said Westberry. He took his kids to basketball games, movies and the mall, she said. Williams was also an entrepreneur and an activist.
In 2016, Williams and a friend brought national attention to a restaurant which displayed an old photo of a lynching. Williams also organized and marched in demonstrations against the police shootings of black men and stood with others in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Hennepin County Judge William Koch told jurors the trial could last as long as two weeks.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.