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Authorities say 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson died shielding his friends from gunfire. Now three men are on trial for his death. Proceedings continue Thursday in a Knox County, Tennessee courtroom. Christopher Drone Bassett, 22, Kipling Colbert Jr., 22, and Richard Gregory Williams III, 23, are charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors said they were among two carfuls of gunmen who opened on Dec. 17, 2015. Police said Dobson shielded two girls from bullets.
“He had dropped to the ground by then and he grabbed us and he was trying to put chairs on top of us,” friend Faith Gordon told WATE in 2016. “He was telling us to get down.”
He was shot and killed, police said.
The three defendants also face charges of first-degree attempted murder, and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony. Bassett was also indicted on a count of unlawful possession of a weapon.
Dobson’s act of bravery and self-sacrifice caught national attention. ESPN made a documentary about his brief life and gave him a posthumous award. Then-President Barack Obama commended him.
This complicated the case, as attorneys for the defendants all worried about media coverage tainting potential jurors in the Knoxville area. Bassett’s lawyer tried and failed to get the case tried in another jurisdiction.
Officer Bethany Fine, a technician at the Knoxville Police Department, testified Tuesday about the evidence received from Dobson’s body. She displayed the sweatshirt he died in, which featured a bullet hole. The sight caused the victim’s mother Zenobia Dobson to break down in tears. The judge called for a recess.
Karen Whitaker, a property manager at the apartment complex where Zaevion died, testified about the layout of the property.
Witness Natasha Colbert, who lived at the apartment Dobson died next to, said she was letting Zaevion’s two female friends stay over at her place. She testified to hearing “four or five” shots, and ran to see him outside laying on the ground. She said Dobson passed away while she dialed 911.
Stay with Law&Crime.com and the Law&Crime Network for continuing coverage of the trial.
[Image of Dobson via Facebook]