Two witnesses refuse to testify in murder trial, defendant's brother charged with intimidating a third
When someone fired a handgun seven times at her apartment Sunday night in downtown Charleston, Cynthia Moultrie had a hunch about why her home had been targeted.
Her son, Raymond Renard Clement, had already warned her that he would testify the next day in the murder trial of 26-year-old Tyrel Collins. Collins is accused in the daring killing of a rival on Charleston's East Side in October 2011.
Moultrie, 48, of Drake Street, thought that someone might have been sending a message when bullets lodged in her living room television and pierced the curtains of the bedroom where she was sleeping around 11 p.m., an incident report stated.
But the Charleston Police Department didn't make any arrests that night.
As 14 jurors started hearing testimony this week and two other witnesses for the prosecution refused to testify against Collins, investigators said they worked to link Sunday's shooting to his brother, 25-year-old Adrian Collins of America Street.
Officers caught Adrian Collins on Monday night after they saw him running from the scene of a disturbance near Mall Playground, the same place where his brother was charged with carrying out the 2011 slaying. He had a gun, the police reported, and he was arrested on a count of unlawfully carrying it.
On Tuesday, after matching that weapon to ballistic evidence found at Moultrie's house, police spokesman Charles Francis said officers added a charge of intimidation of a witness. The felony count carries up to 10 years in prison.
The man who has a history of drug and weapons arrests remained in jail Tuesday. At the time of his arrest, he had been free on bail on a charge of distribution of cocaine base.
Despite the shooting, Moultrie's son, 32-year-old Clement, followed through with his testimony, telling jurors Tuesday that he saw who shot his half-brother, Solomon Chisolm, on Oct. 28, 2011.
Chisolm, 24, had been known as one of the fiercest criminals on the East Side. He had been charged with murdering three men and arrested in the shooting of a fourth man in the stomach, but he avoided prosecution on every count.
Like Chisolm, Tyrel Collins was a known player in Charleston's drug scene, authorities have said.
Four days before Chisolm was slain, Tyrel Collins was wounded when someone fired into his car on Interstate 26 in North Charleston. The police later implicated Chisolm as the primary suspect.
Chisolm was playing cards with Clement, one other man and a woman in Mall Playground at America and Columbus streets when someone walked up and shot him three times before firing a fourth round into his head, according to authorities and witnesses.
The beef between the two was said to have led to Chisolm's demise.
Prosecutors first attempted to try Tyrel Collins in September. But the proceeding ended in a mistrial when his public defender, Jason King, said Chisolm was "legendary as a killer" only 10 seconds into his opening statement.
The murder trial this week has provided its share of twists that indicate how much the authorities have struggled to prosecute Tyrel Collins. Many people have adhered to the "no-snitch" code of the streets and refused to talk with the police.
Clement first told investigators in 2011 that he didn't know who shot Chisolm. He eventually implicated Tyrel Collins after a detective offered to arrange his relocation to Columbia with the help of federal witness-protection money.
He testified about that Tuesday.
But when Assistant Solicitors Greg Voigt and Stephanie Linder called two state prison inmates to the stand Tuesday afternoon, the men who had previously indicated to authorities that Tyrel Collins was the shooter refused to say anything against the defendant.
Instead, Lavar Lemont Anderson, 23, and James Deangelo White, 36, accepted 90-day jail sentences after Circuit Judge Roger Young found them in contempt of court.
The defendant's supporters snickered as the men were sentenced, and Tyrel Collins once burst out in laughter as Young spoke to White.
Neither man gave a reason for his change of heart. They were led away from the downtown courtroom in the shackles and prison clothes they had arrived in.
Prosecutors said they offered Clement nothing in exchange for his testimony. But they did say that a charge of reckless homicide that Clement faces likely will be dropped.
Clement's SUV fatally struck a 76-year-old woman outside the Northwoods Mall in November. He was traveling 24 mph in a 20-mph zone, and that probably doesn't rise to a criminal act, Assistant Solicitor Culver Kidd testified.
Clement's mother wasn't hurt when bullets pierced her home's walls Sunday night.
When she first heard the gunfire, Moultrie told the police, she rolled out of bed and stayed on the floor until it ended.
Afterward, the police took her to a location they didn't reveal in their report and kept an eye on the area around it.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.