The trial of the first of four teens accused of killing a man during a pizza shop holdup opened Tuesday, as Anne Arundel County prosecutors told a jury that not only did Vincent Ethan Bunner shoot the bystander, he bragged about it.
When Misael Flores told the robbers to leave, Bunner and another 17-year-old trained their guns on him, "each one firing a 9 mm round from their gun into his body," Assistant State's Attorney Christina Ferris said.
Defense attorneys countered in opening remarks that prosecutors pegged the wrong youth as a shooter. Once Bunner was arrested, his friends heaped blame on him and distanced themselves from an armed robbery gone fatally awry, the attorneys said.
"Vinnie's arrest sparks a chain of events that leaves every man for himself," Assistant Public Defender Michele Cinque told jurors.
The opening statements kicked off what is expected to be a three-week trial in the slaying Nov. 12, 2010, of Flores. He had stopped by Mr. Wings & Pizza in Glen Burnie on the eve of his 21st birthday to say hello to a longtime friend during the first hours of her first job.
Police charged Bunner, of Pasadena; Shawn Anthony Johnson, then 18, of Glen Burnie; Willie Antonio McLean, 19, of Glen Burnie and Charles Butler, 17, of Brooklyn Park with murder and related counts.
If convicted, Bunner faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. Prosecutors are seeking the same sentence for Butler, who they contend was the other shooter. The prosecution's key witness is expected to be McLean, who is scheduled to be the last of the four to come to trial.
Defense attorneys maintain that Johnson, not Bunner, was the shooter, and that prosecutors can't definitively tie their client to either of the weapons used. However, they acknowledged that Bunner was at the pizzeria.
Jurors are unlikely to learn that Bunner and Johnson also are accused of murdering a clerk at a Glen Burnie 7-Eleven during a botched robbery in August 2010.
Ferris told jurors that Bunner brought a gun that had disappeared from the home of a friend to a shed where youths were plotting the robbery. Another youth brought a weapon to the shed as well, she said.
On Tuesday, jurors heard from Casandra Buruca, who testified that she heard, but did not see, Flores get shot. She and Flores were talking while she was on her first work shift, when four people — two with bandannas hiding much of their faces and two wearing masks — came in and announced a holdup, she said. Despite the bandanna, she said, she recognized Bunner from his eyes and voice as someone from Glen Burnie High School she'd once dated. And she couldn't open the cash register.
"I thought he was playing. I thought those guns were fake," she said, explaining that she returned to filling out an order.
She testified that Flores told the group: "Don't be stupid, just leave. You have nothing to do here, just get out and leave." She heard a gun go off and ran toward the kitchen, she said.Copyright © 2015, CT Now