NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A murder re-trial in Norfolk Circuit Court will move forward in Norfolk without a key confession from an inmate who refuses to testify, citing concerns for his safety in prison.
Javon Doyle is back on trial for the 2011 killing of ODU student Christopher Cummings, the nephew of late Congressman and civil rights activist Elijah Cummings.
Doyle faces several charges, including murder. In August, a judge declared a mistrial in the case.
The Commonwealth rested after a day of testimony Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors are now relying on two witnesses linking Doyle to the crime.
The state outlined a violent home invasion on the morning of June 10, 2011. Dr. Jeffery Gofton, the Norfolk medical examiner at the time, reviewed Cummings autopsy report.
Gofton confirmed Cummings was shot in the face and chest, and died after about 10 minutes of bleeding out. He also said he had bruising from a possible fight, and he may have been stomped.
Jake Carey, Cummings’ roommate, described waking up to the attack. Carey said he heard the front door kicked in and several people running upstairs to Cummings’ room.
Carey told the jury he heard yelling and gunshots. When he cracked his bedroom door to see what happened, that’s when he was shot four to five times.
Carey said the night before the deadly attack, a man named Ahmad was apologizing to Cummings following an attempted robbery. Carey said he saw a red car in the driveway with two other people, but he could not see their faces. Carey identified Ahmad in a 2012 photo lineup.
Dylan Gingerich, a fraternity brother of Cummings and Carey, said a month before the deadly shooting two men tried to rob the house. He said it happened on May 17, 2011, shortly after Ahmad left.
A Norfolk police officer confirmed Cummings made a police report saying two men tried to rob him. 10 On Your Side reported that a man named Ahmad Watson was acquitted of all charges.
Three other men were charged in connection to Cummings death. Charges were dropped for Watson and Kwaume Edwards, while Rashad Dooley was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.
A key witness, a federal inmate, refused to testify.
Norfolk Investigator John Smith said during transport from a federal corrections facility that the inmate said, “if I have to come back to testify, I’m going to lie and mess up you all’s case.” The inmate explained he is concerned for his safety in prison.
A different man testified that he was in Newport News city jail with Doyle in 2011. On the stand, the man says Doyle was bragging about the attempted robbery and murder of Cummings. The man said he did not receive an incentive to testify. He just “wants to do the right thing.”
Tuesday, Matthew Shaver, a fraternity brother of Cummings and Carey, testified he saw Doyle run from the scene the morning of the shooting. Shaver identified Doyle in a photo lineup in 2012.
On the stand Tuesday, he said he is 80% to 90% percent sure Doyle was involved. Shaver also said Cummings was considering buying a gun following a previous robbery attempt.
Emily Munn, the defense attorney, argued that Cummings was selling drugs out of the house, which made him a target. A Norfolk narcotics investigator confirmed marijuana and money was found in the house after the shooting. Munn believes there is no proof or conspiracy linking Doyle to the crime.
A judge ruled the case would continue since the Commonwealth produced one confession and a witness identifying Doyle. The case will pick up again Thursday morning.