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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Opening statements and initial testimony got underway Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of shooting an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer during a robbery.

Willie Barney, 20, has been charged with attempted murder.

Barney and two other men, identified as 20-year old Dedrick Brown and 19-year old Travares Santiago, reportedly approached Officer Wislyn Joseph on September 22, 2012 when he was volunteering with his father at a church in Liberty City. Police say the group demanded Joseph’s jewelry and then shot him right in the chest.

Prosecutors said Barney was the trigger man. They add that they have a strong case which includes recovery of the handgun used in the crime and DNA evidence.

In a hearing on Monday, Barney’s defense attorney tried and failed to block admission of the DNA evidence and gun into the trial.

Miami-Dade Police Officer Herman Joseph in court on April 22, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

Miami-Dade Police Officer Herman Joseph in court on April 22, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

During the pretrial hearing, Joseph testified to what happened the night he was shot. He said Barney trained a pistol on him as he complied with orders to surrender his Gucci bracelet.

“He felt I was taking too long so he yanked it off,” said Joseph. “He reached then and grabbed the gold chain which was on my neck.”

Joseph testified that he had his hands raised in surrender.

“My hands were like this,” he said, demonstrating. “A motion that I didn’t have anything else.”

Joseph testified that Barney leveled a .45 caliber pistol at him and fired a round at point-blank range “in center mass,” striking him in the chest.

“When I looked, I realized that I was bleeding. I lifted up the shirt and I noticed the blood was just pumping, pumping out. At which time I told my dad, ‘apply pressure’.”

Joseph then called 9-1-1.

If convicted, Barney could face a life sentence. Brown and Santiago will go on trial at a later date.


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