A dramatic start to the trial of Kenan Gay, a former North Carolina Chapel Hill football player charged with second degree murder in Charlotte. Lawyers presented their opening statements Thursday.
Prosecutors say Gay pushed Robert Kingston in front of a moving car outside a bar in Dilworth. The defense says what happened in March of 2012 was a tragic accident.
Opening statements from both sides wrapped up Thursday and prosecutors began questioning the first witness, the owner of Ed's Tavern, Al Cole, who was there the night Robert Kingston died. When he spoke some jurors gasped at his demonstration of Gay throwing Kingston into Park Road.
Kenan Gay's defense lawyer made sure jurors heard how he was top ten in his class at Charlotte Law School. They said the former UNC Chapel Hill graduate was at Ed's Tavern 2 years ago and was reacting to a very drunk man hitting on his girlfriend, Liz Wicker.
In their opening, they showed surveillance video where the victim, Kingston, is seen flirting with Gay's girlfriend. And lawyers said Liz Wicker will testify to how she was groped. Lawyers say Gay was protecting his girlfriend after a man with a .29 blood alcohol level kissed her.
Lawyer Sonya Pfeiffer said that Rob didn't deserve to die, but if he hadn't been so drunk and hadn't been grabbing Liz, he'd still be alive. He said Rob's behavior was far worse than "the average Joe Drunk in a bar."
Prosecutors walked across the courtroom saying this is 33 feet. That's how far they say Gay walked Kingston from the door of the bar to the curb then launched the victim into the street and he died another 12 feet away after being hit by an oncoming car. They said yes the victim was drunk but he was not dangerous.
Prosecutor Anna Green said a woman will testify from the bar that night that Rob flirted with her. When she rebuffed his advances, he left her alone without incident.
The day ended with the bar owner on the stand who also happens to be a Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy. He said when he first saw Gay walking with the victim he thought they were friends.
When he realized they weren't he yelled, "Stop." He even yelled on the witness stand to demonstrate how loud he was that night. Prosecutors will continue with their witnesses Friday. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Judge Forrest Don Bridges is presiding over the case. He has decided at this time to not allow cameras in the courtroom for State of North Carolina vs. Kenan Wells Gay. Prosecutors, Anna Green and Jay Ashendorf are representing the state. Lawyers, David Rudolf and Sonya Pfeiffer are defending Gay.
Both sides argued against having cameras in the courtroom. Jury selection lasted two and half days and ended Thursday morning.