The defense in the trial of two men accused of arranging and carrying out the killing of two men in an Orchard Street apartment quickly homed in on who they claim actually carried out the killings.
They said Anton Raider, who is expected to testify for the prosecution, had ample motive to kill Travontae Calloway, 27, and Elliott Bailey, 28 , on May 9, 2014. Raider allegedly had been entrusted with 30 pounds of marijuana belonging to defendant Anthony J. Robins Jr. that disappeared while Raider was partying with friends on Halloween.
Defense attorney Jack McMahon, who represents alleged triggerman John C. Douglas, said Raider matched the description of a man a witness saw leaving the scene in the 2100 block of South Orchard Street moments after the shooting. The witness said the man was a white guy who had blond hair and was wearing a “starched denim jacket.” During a preliminary hearing in the case, Raider admitted he owned a denim jacket.
“We know the guy who had the motive, the guy that owned the gun, the guy who cleaned out the van, the guy who bought the bullets, the guy that had the motive, who was a white guy, who has blond hair and also had a denim jacket. Coincidence, or reasonable doubt?” McMahon asked the jury in opening statements Tuesday.
Robins, 35, a drug grower from Fremont, Calif., is accused of hiring Douglas, 45, from Reading, Pa., to carry out the hits.
Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Shelley Akamatsu said Robins planned the killings for six months after the marijuana, worth $100,000, was stolen. She said Robins’ drug-selling partner, Lance Robertson, who is also from Pennsylvania, was also involved in planning the murders.
“The evidence in this case will show that Anthony Robins ordered and directed the execution of his two friends and hired John Douglas to pull the trigger,” Akamatsu said.
Raider, who lived in a house Robins occupied when he made occasional trips to Idaho, pleaded guilty last year to a state charge of aiding and abetting murder and a federal charge of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug crime. He was sentenced to five years in prison in those cases and is expected to testify against Douglas and Robins.
McMahon questioned the identification by Calloway’s girlfriend, Jeanette Juraska, of Douglas as the man who fatally shot the two men and wounded her in the arm. McMahon said she was high that night and got only a fleeting look at the shooter. He said Juraska initially told police she didn’t know who fired the shots but later described him as a man she knew as “Big Man.”
McMahon said eyewitness identifications are the most unreliable evidence presented in criminal cases, and there was no physical evidence tying Douglas to the case.
“You’re going to see that the quality of that identification is of such little value to your fact-finding decision in this case,” he said.
Other witnesses Wednesday included crime scene analysts and neighbors.
No testimony will be heard on Thursday. The case will resume at 9 a.m. Friday in the Ada County Courthouse.