Testimony is under way in the trial of a man accused of killing 15-year-old Quincy Coleman and wounding a second boy at Garfield High School nearly six years ago.
Deangelo A. Saloy, 22, is on trial in King County Superior Court on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in connection with a drive-by shooting on Oct. 31, 2008. Prosecutors said the charges against Saloy include firearm enhancements and gang aggravators that could bring a sentence range of 43 to nearly 55 years in prison if he’s convicted as charged.
“There was no fight, no argument, no confrontation. They just started shooting,” King County Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner said in her opening statement this morning, saying Saloy wanted payback for the shooting death of a friend two months earlier and didn’t really care who his victim was, so long as it was a member of a rival gang from the Central District.
While the driver of the car Saloy was riding in has been identified by police, that man hasn’t been charged because of a lack of evidence, court records show.
Berliner told jurors Saloy “did not act alone but his guilt is the only one you’re being asked to decide.”
Defense attorney Julie Gaisford urged the jury to pay close attention to words and their context, saying that Saloy and his fellow gang members speak their own language. Saloy’s rap lyrics and social media postings will be part of the evidence introduced against him, she said.
“There’s no weapon in this case. There’s no DNA, no fingerprints … there’s no confession in this case,” Gaisford said. “There’s a lot of talk, a lot of terms, a lot of issues of credibility.”
Saloy was arrested in September 2012 as he walked out of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, where he had served an 11-month sentence for second-degree assault on a police officer and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Coleman was hanging out with a group of friends behind the high school when a silver Ford Taurus pulled up near the group around 8:30 p.m., police said. A gunman from the back seat of the car opened fire, shooting Coleman twice in the back and wounding another 15-year-old boy, Demario Clark.
Police said Coleman was a member of a Central Area gang, and Saloy, who was 16 at the time of the fatal shooting, is a member of a South Seattle gang.
According to court documents, investigators obtained statements from six witnesses who connected Saloy to the shooting.
Saloy is alleged to have told someone that he’d thrown weapons into Lake Washington near Mount Baker Beach Park, where a civilian diver later recovered four weapons on two occasions, including a gun that is consistent with the one that killed Coleman, court documents say. But during opening statements this morning, the jury was told the weapons were so corroded that none of them could be test fired to match two bullets recovered from Coleman’s body.
Another person wore a wire for police and recorded a conversation with Saloy. During that recorded 2010 conversation, court documents allege, Saloy said that he had been “very upset about the death” of his 16-year-old friend, Pierre LaPointe.
He said that on the night of Coleman’s death, he and some friends had “traveled north to find someone responsible for the shooting,” court documents say.
Police said the video from the recorded conversation also shows Saloy urinating on Coleman’s memorial marker at the high school, the documents say.
In addition to the convictions for assault on a police officer and unlawful possession of a firearm, court documents indicate Saloy has previous convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm, harassment, drugs and possession of stolen property.
Coleman’s slaying came amid a spate of gang-related violence in Seattle in which teenagers were often targeted.