Events leading up to murder told at trial
CHARLES TOWN – “I told them I didn’t want to rob the Mumaws,” said Brady Fitzgerald, the driver of the Ford sedan that last year put him at a fatal shooting scene outside Charles Town.
During the second day of a first-degree felony murder trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Fitzgerald, 18, of Charles Town, described a chain of accelerating events that, he said, connected him to three acquaintances in the drug-related homicide of 21-year-old Ryan Mumaw of Charles Town.
Fitzgerald, who was convicted of robbery in a plea agreement related to Mumaw’s killing, testified that he randomly met Malakye Emerson Boyd the day before Mumaw’s shooting while stopping to socialize at a friend’s house in Ranson.
Fitzgerald, who maintained a 4.0 grade average at Washington High School, said he had known of Boyd from local sports but only met him socially a couple of times before the shooting last July. After attending an overnight party Boyd held with others in a local hotel room, Fitzgerald said he offered to drive Boyd to “wherever he wanted to go.”
That’s when Fitzgerald encountered two other males, he said, who would initiate and direct the events leading to Mumaw’s death.
What then started as a request by those men to purchase a pound of marijuana escalated into a robbery plan that turned into a shooting and Mumaw’s death, he testified.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Fitzgerald, who was 17 at the time of Mumaw’s shooting, pleaded guilty to robbery for his involvement. In September, he is scheduled received a sentence of 20 years in prison. He is currently held at the Vicki Douglas Juvenile Correction Center in Martinsburg, but he will serve his robbery sentence at an adult penitentiary, a prosecutor said.
Wearing handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit, Fitzgerald took the witness stand Tuesday to testify for the prosecution in the first-degree felony murder trial of Boyd and his 21-year-old half-brother Rakeen Deqwan Newman, who were among the three people who with Fitzgerald at the shooting scene at Tuscawilla Hills subdivision.
Boyd and Newman face trial on first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. If convicted of first-degree felony murder, both men would face a possible penalty of up to life without parole.
The fourth person charged from the events leading to Mumaw’s shooting death is Tayjuhn Coble, 19, who pleaded no contest – without admitting guilt – to robbery. Restricted to remain at a Charles Town home while free on bond, he awaits a sentence in October of 15 years in prison under a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Fitzgerald’s and Coble’s plea agreements require them to testify truthfully at Boyd’s and Newman’s joint trial this week.
On Monday, Fitzgerald testified as a prosecution witness, and he faced cross examination by defense attorneys Wednesday. Coble was also expected to take the witness stand Wednesday as a prosecution witness.
Here’s what Fitzgerald relayed on the witness stand Monday:
On the day before the shooting, Fitzgerald, who said he had occasionally purchased and smoked marijuana, was asked to bring marijuana to the party at the Motel 6 next to U.S. 340 in Charles Town. Others he didn’t know brought alcohol to the party as well.
Fitzgerald passed out during the party from drugs and alcohol, and woke up the next day in the hotel room. That day, the day of the shooting, he offered to drive Boyd wherever he wanted to go. Boyd directed him to a residence on West Liberty Street in Charles Town.
There in the living room of the residence with Boyd, Fitzgerald met Coble and Newman. A girl was present as well.
Fitzgerald said Newman mentioned that he wanted to obtain a pound of marijuana and asked him whether he could acquire that amount. Fitzgerald said he could from his usual sources, Ryan Mumaw and his brother Dylan.
In testimony echoed by Dylan Mumaw on Monday, Fitzgerald said he had only purchased two ounces of marijuana at a time from the Mumaws, a quantity the brothers typically sold for $480.
“They asked me to text them,” Fitzgerald said of Boyd, Newman and Coble.
At the West Liberty Street house the three men directed a series of text messages on Fitzgerald’s smartphone that convinced the Mumaws to meet Fitzgerald to purchase the pound of marijuana in a parking area for townhomes in the Tuscawilla Hills subdivision. Boyd, Newman and Coble asked to go with Fitzgerald, who would drive them all in his silver four-day sedan.
Before leaving the West Liberty Street residence to meet the Mumaws, the three others went upstairs to change clothes, leaving Fitzgerald alone in the living room. In a conversation that ensued among the four males, Newman then mentioned he wanted to steal not buy the marijuana from the brothers.
Fitzgerald said he resisted the suggestion to steal the marijuana, but the three others pressured him. They told him the theft would happen quickly and nothing would happen because of it. Fear drove him to relent, Fitzgerald said.
Recalling the events before and during the shooting, Fitzgerald said he wasn’t aware that any of the other three males involved in Mumaw’s shooting had brought a handgun to an encounter to steal the marijuana. Frightened from the circumstances he found himself in, he said he witnessed the shooting mostly through his car’s rear view mirrors while sitting in the driver’s seat, but he never saw any gun involved – either before or after the shooting.
At the shooting scene at a local basketball court, Fitzgerald said Newman exited the car from with the passenger seat and a second person – he told police it was Coble but later changed the person to Boyd – exited the car from the seat behind his position in the driver’s seat.
Fitzgerald said he heard about three shots fired during the shooting and saw Newman in the car mirrors standing in a cloud of white smoke. He did not see the second person – whether it was Boyd or Coble – fire a gun at the scene.
After later rethinking through the events that happened during the shooting, Fitzgerald said he realized – and then corrected an initial statement saying otherwise to police – that Boyd was the second person to left the car during the shooting. Nobody influenced his change of memory, he said.
After the shooting, Fitzgerald fled the Tuscawilla Hills subdivision with Boyd, Newman and Coble. He drove them on outlying roads around the Charles Town area before driving back to the city, ending up in an alleyway where he dropped off Newman and Coble, who warned him not say anything about the shooting or “they would be coming for me.”
Later, Fitzgerald was shocked to learn from his mother and father by a text message that the police were looking for him in connection to the shooting. “They said I was involved in a murder,” he recalled.
He said he then shortly afterward received a call on his smartphone from a police officer asking him to turn himself into the nearest police station. His father asked him to cooperate with police and to tell them the truth.
While driving to the Charles Town Police Department’s headquarters, Fitzgerald was stopped and arrested in connection to Ryan Mumaw’s shooting death. Unable to remember little about his arrest, he said he remembers police officers helping him out of his car, but he doesn’t remember them placing handcuffs on him.