The attorneys for a man who is accused of shooting a youth football coach have announced that they plan to appeal a trial court judge’s decision not to allow an expert witness to testify regarding the defendant’s state of mind.
At around 11:20am on December 12, 2017, a shooting was reported around outside the Huntington Mart Marathon along Hal Greer Boulevard in West Virginia. KaFrederick “Bae Bae” McEachin was shot and killed in broad daylight.
According to Huntington Detective Chris Sperry, surveillance video and eyewitness accounts revealed that the shooting began inside of the store and then moved to the parking lot.
The video shows McEachin opening the door of the store for Antwon Starkey, who then walked through the doors and passed by a few people before pulling a gun out of his jacket pocket and shot McEachin twice. An unarmed McEachin ran out of the store and collapsed on the pavement. Starkey followed after McEachin and shot him again — once in the head and once in the back.
A few hours later, Starkey called 911, identified himself as the shooter, and said he was going to turn himself in. Starkey was arrested a few hours later, just two blocks from where the shooting took place.
According to authorities, Starkey said he had shot McEachin after he heard the victim was connected with the shooting of his 14-year-old stepdaughter two weeks prior to the shooting. Starkey also stated that he believed McEachin had also targeted both Starkey and his wife.
Antwon Starkey, 32, was charged with murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the death of KaFrederick “Bae Bae” McEachin, 25.
Starkey’s defense attorney filed a motion to have an expert witness testify about Starkey’s state of mind during the shooting. Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard denied the motion. Defense attorney Abe Saad stated that he plans to appeal that decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Because of Saad’s intent to appeal this decision, the trial date for Starkey has been pushed back.
At a hearing announcing his intent to appeal the decision, Saad argued that Judge Howard had twice reversed decisions that had originally given him full access to detective notes and would allow an expert witness to testify regarding Starkey’s state of mind at the time of the slaying and whether the previous shooting provoked him to shoot McEachin.
Orders issued by the court reflect that a redacted version of the detective notes had been turned over to the defense and that the expert would not be allowed to testify.
Judge Howard said he had wrestled with the decisions for a long time to try to keep a fair trial for both sides and did not issue signed orders until the final decision had been made. Judge Howard stated, “What I do recall is allowing the defense to have those notes, which I wrestled with that decision to some degree, but ultimately erred on the side of allowing the defendant to have them, but also doing some mild redaction.”
Judge Howard also noted that defense failed to object to his decision to not allow the expert witness to testify until almost 30 days after the order was issued. He said, “Obviously the defense will argue provocation, and that is certainly within their right. . . . But to have an expert say that — my ultimate decision is that that’s not appropriate and it does step into the jury’s (duty).”
Starkey was set to go to trial the last week of October; however, the trial has now been pushed back until February 10, 2020 to give Saad and his co-counsel time to familiarize themselves with the case and to appeal the rulings to the Supreme Court.