UTICA, NY-- A witness who saw Jamal Mathis minutes before he was killed claims that an argument ensued with Ricky Woods Jr. seconds before gun shots went off.
Woods is the Yorkville man on trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of Mathis in December of 2015. This is the second trial for Woods since a mistrial was declared last November, because a jury could not determine if he was guilty or not guilty on the murder charge. But the jury did find Woods not guilty on weapons charges.
Shaniya Nevith, a girlfriend of Mathis at the time of his murder, took the stand on Thursday in Oneida County Court to explain where she was and what she saw moments before her Mathis was shot to death.
Nevith did not want to appear on camera. She is serving time in prison for attempted assault on a police officer.
Nevith said she went to the party on 1169 Leeds Street in the early morning hours of December 19, 2015.
She said she saw Woods with a gun in his pants at the party. She claimed she also saw Mathis storm out of the party and Woods followed him outside. She said she followed both men into the driveway but stopped in the middle because she heard an altercation between the two men. She testified that she heard two gun shots in succession and she ran, she also saw Mathis run. She said soon after she heard five to six more gun shots go off. But when police first interviewed her days after Mathis was found dead she lied to police saying she wasn't at the party. Nevith said she lied to police because she had three children, one child was 4-months-old at the time. She said she knew if she told police what she witnessed she would have been violating her parole and be sent back to prison.
Months later she spoke with police after an arrest and received less prison time for her help with this case. She has made statements and testified incorrect address numbers and directions before. When the defense attorney questioned her she said "everyone makes mistakes."
During a brief break from testimony Woods walked by his family members and made facial gestures to his family members in the courtroom.
Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer later scolded Woods.
"Keep your attention focused here," he said. "You don't worry about what's back there, you don't make any signs, you don't speak to them, you don't whisper to them, you keep your attention focused directly in front, or there won't be anyone in this court."
Woods responded saying he understood.
Witness testimony continues at 10 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to last until Friday.
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