FRESNO, California (KSEE) – On Monday, the capital murder trial of accused spree-killer, Kori Muhammad, got underway.
Muhammad is accused of killing four men, three of them during a shooting spree in downtown Fresno in 2017.
Police say Muhammad told them he killed the men because they were white.
Muhammad is also accused of killing 25-year-old Carl Williams, a security guard at a Motel 6 on Blackstone, near Ashlan.
In court, both sides started with opening statements. The defense focusing on Muhammad’s mental health, the prosecution focusing on facts and the chain of events leading to the four Fresno men being killed, starting back on April 13, 2017.
“This first murder was captured on video and the defendant later admits to every single murder and attempted murder on multiple occasions,” Kelly Smith with the Fresno County District Attorney’s office.
The defense was next saying the alleged actions by Muhammad were due to mental health issues he’s had since 1992.
“In this matter, the evidence is going to show that Mr. Muhammad is a very sick man and that these actions were taken by a man with serve mental health issues,” Richard Beshwate, Muhammad’s lawyer.
The main focus on Monday, the chain of events leading to the murder of Williams.
The first witness, Roy Wheaton, was called by the prosecution. Wheaton, who’s not from the area, had stopped at the Motel 6 to sleep, as he was passing through.
Wheaton says after the shooting he noticed a woman trying to leave. In court, Smith played surveillance video of what appears to be that moment.
“I remember making it clear to her that she couldn’t leave because she knew the person and there had been a shooting and police were on their way and she should remain,” Wheaton said.
Throughout the day, others took to the stand, including Fresno Police officers and the Motel 6-night auditor.
He says he the disturbance started over that woman, identified as Lisa R. Martin, having an unregistered guest, identified as Muhammad.
Video shows Williams talking to Martin, Muhammad was nearby.
Another video shown in court shows the moment Muhammad pulls out a gun and shoots Williams.
Williams’ family was in the courtroom, they walked out at that moment.
The mother of Mark Gassett, one of the downtown shooting victims, was also in the courtroom, showing support.
“It’s very sad to have to see everything that happened,” Rosie Wagner, Gassett’s mother said.
One juror was excused after the lunch break due to a medical condition, an alternative juror was selected. The court continues on Tuesday at 9 a.m.