NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A judge has nolle prossed the case against a man previously accused in a shooting that took the lives of three people and injured two others on Granby Street in Norfolk.
The judge made this ruling in the case against Antoine Legrande Jr. on Tuesday, after two out of three witnesses in the case failed to report to court. The Commonwealth told a judge this case relies on witness testimony. The state emailed, texted, and called the witnesses.
Legrande was previously charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and other firearm charges related to the March 19 shooting outside of Chicho’s Backstage.
The shooting left 24-year-old Marquel Andrews, 25-year-old Devon “Malik” Harris and 25-year-old Sierra Jenkins, a Virginian-Pilot reporter, dead.
Back in September, the Commonwealth told a judge they were having a hard time serving a witness and gathering evidence from cell towers and shell casings. The state asked for more time.
Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi told 10 On Your Side he was “extremely disappointed” with the outcome.
“It’s one of the most high-profile cases that has happened in Hampton Roads in a long time,” Fatehi said. “Ethically, we didn’t have the evidence to move forward. We didn’t have the witnesses to be able to put on the case … if we don’t have the case to establish probable cause, we’re not allowed to go forward.”
“The police need help from people who were [at the shooting],” added Fatehi. “This was a big scene. There were a lot of people out that night. Logically, there has to be somebody who knows something, who has not come forward. I am asking, I am begging those people to come forward.”
Fatehi has confirmed that the charges can be refiled.
“My prosecutors on the case did what they had to do and that was drop the case in hopes that more evidence and more witnesses come forward,” Fatehi said. “I am asking, I am begging those people to come forward and speak to the Norfolk police or speak to us.”
Fatehi said he is lobbying for a witness protection program. He believes witnesses may be more willing to testify if they did not fear retaliation.
“People are worried about coming forward,” Fatehi said. “It may not have made a difference in this case but it’s unconscionable that we don’t have that tool.”
The witnesses are now ordered to come to court later this month on November 30.
“For the sake of the three people who died, for the sake of their families, for the sake of the surviving victims and witnesses. We ask the court to order them appear later this month and explain themselves why they weren’t here.”
According to Eric Korslund, Legrande was released from Norfolk City Jail on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is an absolute tragedy, but our position is, he didn’t do it. I think it’s crystal clear to me that he didn’t do it. I don’t criticize the commonwealth’s attorney anyway for how this case is handled. It’s a triple homicide, very serious obviously they had probable cause that Mr. Legrande was involved but he had his day in court,” said Korslund, Legrande’s attorney. “He spent over six months in jail, he is presumed innocent, and no evidence has been presented against him.”
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office also has the option to directly indict Legrande, however, it is still unclear if they will or not at this time.