As the man slowly made his way through Courtroom 4, every member of the jury watched carefully as he rested his thick metallic cane with each passing step. They kept their eyes on the witness — a tall, thin man of 58, known to his friends as "Slim" — as he explained his 20-year addiction to crack cocaine, and how he spent most of April 2, 2006 in a drug-induced haze drinking wine and smoking marijuana. Some of the jurors fidgeted nervously as the man told the story about what happened at 8 p.m. that evening, when his grandson rushed into the grandfather’s Old Towne West bedroom with a gun — taking the life of the grandfather’s best friend before turning the gun on the grandfather and ultimately himself.
"I didn’t know what to think," testified Henry Carrington, who attended the old George Washington High School in the late 1960s. "He was a nice guy, and he had never been in any trouble I knew of."
When police officials and emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene, they found the body of Lee Timmons, 50, slumped over on one end of a queen-sized bed. Tobias Carrington said that at the time he was recovering from hip surgery, and Lee was a longtime friend who was helping him out by doing laundry and buying groceries. On April 2, Carrington testified, Lee arrived at Apartment 516 with a $20 rock of crack, a jug of red wine and a marijuana-filled cigar.
"I knew Lee Timmons for 25 or 30 years," he said on the witness stand. "He was my best friend."
The 911 dispatcher logged the call at 7:59 p.m., a recorded conversation that jurors heard Monday afternoon. Henry Carrington’s voice was clearly frantic during the call, begging for help and mumbling incoherently into the telephone as the woman on the other end tried to get details of the triple shooting. The grandfather’s distress illustrated the grave nature of what had just occurred. The call also provided investigators with what initially seemed like an open-and-shut case.
"Ambulance! Please! Right away," he screamed into the telephone. "My grandson done shot us all."
TOBIAS CARRINGTON wore all black as the trial opened on Monday, with a deep scar on the right side of his head visible even from the back row of the courtroom. He limped toward the defense table with a deliberateness that indicated the events of April 2, 2006 took a severe physical toll on him, and his lawyer explained to jurors that he had no memory of the day in question. In his opening comments, defense attorney David Kiyonaga disputed Tobias Carrington’s recollection of events leading to the triple shooting as the unreliable memories of a longtime crack addict.
"At the time he was loaded up with cocaine, alcohol and marijuana," Kiyonaga told jurors. "This is not an open-and-shut case."
The defense theory of the case is that a fourth man was the shooter, fleeing the scene of the crime before police officials were called to the scene. Kiyonaga pointed out the Henry Carrington’s door was open when emergency technicians arrived, creating a measure of doubt about who may have been in the apartment when the shots were fired. He said that the police conduced a flawed investigation, failing to follow through on leads that might have exonerated his client. Further complicating the government’s claims, the defense attorney said, was the entrance wound on the top of Tobias Carrington’s head.
"How does a person commit suicide? It’s usually by placing the gun against the temple or in the mouth," Kiyonaga explained to members of the jury. "Consider how awkward it would be to shoot yourself in the top of the head."
THE RECOLLECTION of Henry Carrington is at the center of prosecutors’ case against Tobias Carrington, who turned 20 in jail while awaiting trial. A hush fell over the courtroom Monday when the grandfather pointed toward his own grandson as the perpetrator of the bizarre triple shooting. Tobias Carrington looked down as Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Laura Greene glanced toward the jury box. Neighbors said that the two were close, although they described the younger man as shy and retiring.
"I never heard him say anything," said Geri Baldwin, an Old Towne West resident. "He was always looking down."
Prosecutors placed much of their confidence in the grandfather’s testimony, which clearly identified the grandson as the culprit. Yet the defense attorney hoped to undercut that case by challenging the veracity of their main witness, a man who admitted to spending most of the day in a drug-induced stupor. Jurors will have the ultimate say, determining if Tobias Carrington is guilty of murdering Lee Timmons and shooting Henry Carrington in the arm.
At press time, jurors were still deliberating.