MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Openings statements got underway Wednesday in the retrial of a man accused of the armed robbery and attempted murder of an off-duty police detective but the state has changed its strategy.
Willie Barney was convicted in April for the attempted murder and armed robbery of off-duty Miami-Dade Detective Wislyn Joseph last September.
Unlike the first trial, however, Det. Joseph will testify last instead of first.
The first to testify Wednesday was Joseph’s uncle Renal who described how the family was doing volunteer work at their Liberty City church on September 22, 2012 when he heard loud voices and a ruckus outside.
“I heard some gunshots,” the uncle testified. “I thought maybe they killed him.”
The detective’s father, Jules, said he was in the church and heard someone shouting.
“I heard ‘give it to me, give it to me, give it to me!’” the father testified. The father said he looked and saw a man confronting his son.
“He pulled out the gun and he shot him. Boom!” Jules Joseph said. “I ran to my son and I held him.”
The father could not identify Barney.
Detective Joseph has previously named Barney as the man who shot him.
The defense scored points Wednesday when Jules Joseph testified his son was wearing his eyeglasses at the time of the shooting. In previous sworn testimony the father said his son did not have his glasses on.
The jury will later hear the detective testify that Barney, now 20, grabbed the gold jewelry from his neck, wrist and ring finger, then shot him at near point blank range. Joseph testified in the first trial that blood gushed from his chest and he directed his father to apply pressure. The detective made his own call to 911.
Prosecutor Dawn Kulick told jurors that Joseph provided a description of his assailants and their car. Barney was stopped in a car matching the description, and the gun used to shoot the officer was recovered from the red Pontiac. The prosecutor said Barney’s DNA was found on the victim.
Defense attorney Robert Barrar told jurors the DNA evidence is not conclusive and could match “thousands” of other people. Barrar said Barney’s finger prints were not on the gun and no gun powder residue was found on Barney’s hands.
The greatest obstacle for the state may be Joseph’s ID of Barney. On the day of the robbery he described the shooter as being a “light skinned” black male. Barney has a dark complexion.
The defense attorney pointed to his client and told jurors, “As you can see, Mr. Barney is not light skinned.”
In the original trial jurors convicted Barney of robbery and attempted murder but found that he did not use a firearm. That saved him from a possible life sentence.
Barney is rolling the dice on a retrial, granted after Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat acknowledged an error during jury selection in the first trial.
Barney was released from prison on a previous armed robbery conviction just weeks before he allegedly shot detective Joseph.
Barney and two alleged accomplices, Dedrick Brown and Travares Santiago, are charged in a robbery and murder spree in August and September of last year.
The three are being prosecuted separately in all of the cases.
A previous ruling that would have allowed the jury to hear about a separate robbery that Barney was charged with was reversed by the judge who determined the two crimes were not similar enough to be tried in both cases at the same time.