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Victims Deny Seeing USC Halloween Shooting Suspect At Party

Olga Grigoryants |
January 30, 2014 | 12:12 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Brandon Spencer, 21, is accused of shooting four at a USC campus Halloween party in 2012. (Wilson Pumpernickel/Flickr)
Brandon Spencer, 21, is accused of shooting four at a USC campus Halloween party in 2012. (Wilson Pumpernickel/Flickr)

Not one of the three victims that took the stand on Tuesday testified to seeing Brandon Spencer, the man accused of shooting four at a USC campus Halloween party in 2012, the night they were shot.

Spencer allegedly opened fire amongst a group of people waiting in line to enter a Halloween party hosted by the Black Student Assembly at Tutor Campus Center. The Oct. 2012 shooting rattled a campus still reeling from the murder of two Chinese graduate students earlier in April of 2012.

Spencer is charged with four counts of attempted murder.

SEE ALSO: Trial Opens For USC Halloween Shooting

The prosecution opted to focus on evidence from social media, as Deputy District Attorney Antonella Nistorescu presented a vitriolic Twitter exchange between Brandon Spencer and Geno Hall, one of the victims, to the jury.

The 21-year-old defendant sought out Hall in retaliation, after Spencer was injured in an alleged gang-related shooting, according to the Los Angeles Times. The two feuded over rival gang ties via Twitter until Hall, a former local high school football star, sent Spencer a confrontational message urging the suspected gunman to come find him.

Spencer reportedly ran into Hall at the party and the pair started arguing, escalating into gun violence. Hall was shot four times and critically wounded, but denied meeting Spencer at the party.

“I didn’t have an argument with anyone that night,” Hall said.

Spencer, identified by a USC security officer as the shooter, was arrested at a campus parking lot the night of shooting. The gun, a .38 caliber revolver, was recovered later in the parking lot, an investigative officer said. But police were unable to match prints to the firearm.

Davonte Smith and Mysson Downs, two other shooting victims, also testified in court.

Smith, another former Crenshaw High School football player, was shot in the right ankle. Smith said that he arrived with both Downs and Hall, and was waiting to enter the party when he heard gun fire. The former football standout started running and testified he did not see the shooter.

Downs, a former student at Culver City High School, was shot in the back and foot, but denied even being in the same car with Hall and Smith. Nistorescu argued Downs' description of events was not consistent with Smith's testimony.

“Devonte Smith said he came with you. You say you came without him. Can he be mistaken?” Nistorescu asked.

“I drove my own car,” Downs said.

Downs also denied seeing Spencer at the party.

Defense Attorney John Blanchard argued that the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient and appeared confident upon leaving the courtroom.

“[Spencer] is going to be found not guilty,” said Blanchard.

As members of the jury left the courtroom to break, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edmund Clarke also criticized the prosecution for confusing the jury with numerous instances of “displaying things to the jury without offering evidence.”

“This is an improper and unprofessional move on you part,” Clarke said. “I don’t know if you’re are lazy or you’re nervous or you don’t know how to do that. To prevent it happening again, I will ask you to turn off the projector and not use it again.” 

The prosecution declined to comment for the story. 

The trial is expected to continue until the end of the next week.


Reach reporter Olga Grigoryants here.



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