One of three men accused in the murders of four relatives of football star Kermit Alexander testified Monday that he had no idea his companions were going to open fire when they went to the Alexander home last summer.
In a move that mildly surprised the prosecution, Horace Edwin Burns, 19, took the stand as his own chief defense witness before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury and Judge Aurelio Munoz.
Burns portrayed himself as an unwitting accomplice who became frightened when his associates brandished weapons before entering the West 59th Street home of Alexander’s 58-year-old mother, Ebora, Aug. 31.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Sterling E. Norris has told jurors that Burns’ companions, Tiequon Aundray Cox, 18, and Darren Charles Williams, 24, walked into the Alexander home, which they had mistaken for another, and shot to death Alexander’s mother, sister and two young nephews. One witness has suggested the killings were intended as retaliation for a drug deal gone awry.
Cox and Williams are awaiting trial.
Earlier in Burns’ trial, Ida Moore, the woman who drove the three men to the Alexander home, said that Burns appeared to know what was planned for the people inside. After Cox and Williams had entered the home, Moore testified, Burns told her, “They’re going to shoot ‘em up.”
According to Burns’ account Monday, he never made such a remark.
To convict Burns of the murders, Norris must prove that Burns knew about the plan to kill the occupants of the home and assented to it.
During his testimony, Burns said the only notion he had of where he and his companions were going that day came from Williams.
“C. W. (Williams’ nickname) said come with him over to his girlfriend’s house to pick up some money,” Burns testified.
Only when their van had arrived at the Alexander home did he see that Williams was carrying a pistol and Cox a blue jacket with what appeared to be a weapon wrapped inside it, Burns testified.
“I asked what they doin’,” Burns told the jury. “C-Dub (another name for Williams), he said ‘We’re going to scare the people up.’ That was his only statement.
“They disappeared out of my sight,” Burns said. “I was scared.”
Moments later, Burns said, he heard a volley of eight or nine shots. Williams returned to the van. After a second round of shots, Williams said, “Let’s bone out,” Burns testified. Cox returned and the van sped away, Burns said.
Burns’ testimony, which is to resume today, was interrupted by a brief hearing that was closed to the public. At the end of the hearing, Munoz excused one juror and cautioned other members of the panel to avoid discussing the case with anyone outside the jury room. Neither Norris nor Gerald D. Lenoir, one of Burns’ defense attorneys, would comment on the judge’s action.