NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It was another tough day in court for the families of the five women shot in Young Terrace in November 2021.
On Wednesday, they witnessed photos taken of those killed and heard detailed descriptions of the damage done by bullets. Medical examiner Dr. Wendy Gunther explained her findings.
Earlier this week loved ones grappled with hearing a dozen calls for help and viewed bodycam video and photos of their loved ones as they lay lifeless on the ground.
Three of the women died from their injuries.
Ziontay Palmer faces several charges, including three counts of aggravated murder. He was initially charged with three counts of second-degree murder.
It was a mass shooting, in broad daylight, as kids played outside at Young Terrace.
Witnesses at the scene of the Nov. 3, 2021 shooting said Palmer shot his pregnant girlfriend Angel Legrande in the shoulder, and as her mom and neighbors came to help her, they said Palmer shot four other women.
In total, five women were shot — “three women laid dead in the street.”
Nicole Lovewine, who is Legrande’s mother, as well as Detra Brown and Sarah Costine, all died from their injuries. The fourth woman, Shazelle Dixon survived.
Lovewine and Brown were shot in the head, while Legrande was shot in the shoulder. Costine was shot in her side. Lovewine, Brown and Costine were pronounced dead at the scene.
Dixon was shot three times, in the mouth, arm and back.
The Commonwealth said Palmer stood over her and kept shooting.
Norfolk Commonwealth’s attorneys shared 13 calls to 911 dispatchers — as people begged for first responders to hurry.
On Tuesday, the first officer on the scene took the stand as the state shared body camera video of a community devastated. Family members described the shooter as their loved ones laid lifeless on the ground.
A neighbor who called 911 shared Ring doorbell camera video with police. The woman said after she saw the video, she knew the shooter was Palmer. They also reportedly found the murder weapon near the crime scene, and one of the victims pointed out Palmer as the shooter in court.
Palmer entered a not guilty plea. His attorney, Eric Korslund, said this is a misidentification and insists there is “no scientific evidence” to prove Palmer shot all of the women, and there was “no motive.” He also said there was “poor police work on the case.”
He also said the Ring camera video of the shooting does not show a clear view of Palmer’s face, while Korslund also argues the 911 calls had conflicting information.
On Wednesday, Palmer’s ex-girlfriend Angel Legrande recalled the events that led up to the shooting.
The night before, the couple had gotten into an argument. Legrande said Palmer was acting strange and went through her phone. Later that night, she went through his phone and found he was talking to other girls. She told him she could raise their unborn daughter by herself and Palmer left for the night.
The following night, Legrande said she and her mother were expecting Palmer at their home. They were planning to take him to the hospital to get him help for his mental health. When he got out of the car at Legrande’s home, he pulled out his gun and shot her. She dropped to the ground. When she managed to get up she saw her mother with gunshot wounds on the ground and unresponsive. She ran to get her stepmom Detra Brown for help.
Legrande left in an ambulance while Brown was shot six times. Costine, a bystander who tried to help, was also shot and killed.
Dixon, a mom of four, gave her testimony and spoke publicly on the shooting for the first time Wednesday.
Dixon was washing dishes when she heard gunshots. She ran outside because her children were playing on a trampoline and she wanted to check on them. She saw Costine attempting CPR, then saw a man come up to her and shoot her. Dixon backed away from the scene and tried hiding behind a trash can.
She said Palmer spotted her and followed her. She begged him not to shoot. She said he lifted up the gun and fired three times. Dixon spent two weeks in the hospital and is still undergoing treatment for lifelong injuries. A bullet is still wedged in her back.
About four weeks after the shooting, Legrande recorded a FaceTime call with Palmer while he was in jail. Legrande wanted to understand why he killed her mom. In the video, Palmer said in part, “I apologized. I was going through stuff. I tried to kill myself, started praying every day if you understood the situation. … I told you I have problems, that I need to talk to a therapist. … I know I was wrong. I asked God for forgiveness. Nothing was right about it.”
Costine’s 15-year-old son, who was 13 at the time of the shooting, also took the stand Wednesday. He was playing on a trampoline with Dixon’s kids when he heard gunshots. He ran inside his house, then came back outside when he saw a man running away. He found his mom unresponsive on the ground.
Thursday, the bulk of the witness testimony was provided by Norfolk Police Officers who responded to the scene of the crime.
From their testimony came evidence of a pink backpack authorities related to the crime.
The backpack was found in the passenger seat of a car a woman told officers someone tried to steal.
This was supported by officers’ bodycam footage.
The name tag on that backpack, shown in evidence pictures, was Ziontay Palmer.
Palmer’s phone record were also shown to the court.
That included a video of what an investigator identified as the defendant wearing a brown hoodie, waving around a handgun.
That same investigator pointed out that hoodie in a crime scene photo.
The prosecution provided many evidence pictures from that night, including one of a black vehicle pointed out as belonging to Ziontay’s aunt.
The officer said the gun used in the mass shooting was found on the left side of the car.
However, it wasn’t tested for fingerprints because he testified another officer picked it up with his bare hands, switching to handling it with cotton gloves for several minutes.
Ziontay’s mother and stepfather also took the witness stand.
They both said they took their son straight to the police station to clear his name after hearing about the shooting.
Evidence photos and police bodycam footage show Ziontay changed his shirt sometime during the day.
Closing arguments begin at 9 am Friday followed by jury deliberation.