Archive for Friday, November 12, 2004

Shooter testifies in his own defense

Cosby claims he acted in self-defense, urges court not to judge him

November 12, 2004


Lafayette Cosby talked about religion and President Bush. He called out Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney's name when it appeared he thought she wasn't listening to him.

During more than five hours of testifying in his own defense, Cosby tried to convince jurors he saw Robert T. Martin concealing a gun and making threatening movements the morning of April 4 -- moments before Cosby shot and killed Martin at close range.

"It's easy for you to go back and say all the things I could have done at that particular time," Cosby told Assistant Dist. Atty. Dave Zabel. But Cosby said that would be like questioning "everything that George Bush should have done."

It's the second time Cosby, 25, has taken the stand to defend himself against a homicide charge.

In 1998, jurors acquitted him of manslaughter after finding he acted in self-defense in the stabbing of 23-year-old David E. Walker II, a friend of Martin's.

Prosecutors allege Cosby shot Martin with premeditation, in part out of fear that Martin wanted to hurt him. Zabel asked Cosby whether he had ever told an acquaintance years ago that God told him Martin was the devil and was trying to kill him.

Cosby denied ever saying or thinking that.

His version of the shooting was that Martin, 28, showed up uninvited at a party at Jefferson Commons, 2511 W. 31st St., and appeared to be upset with another partygoer, Alrick Johnson.

Cosby's attorney, Greg Robinson, has said Martin blamed Johnson for sending him to jail in the past.

Cosby testified that as he and Martin talked in a secluded part of the apartment, Martin made a comment about how people's actions had consequences.

Martin later got up from a chair in the living room, walked across the room and sat down on the end of a couch next to Johnson, Cosby said. He said Martin began fidgeting with a leather jacket he was holding on his lap.

Cosby said he considered Martin an unpredictable "wild man," so he grew concerned and began watching Martin. Cosby said that when he glimpsed a gun Martin was holding, he went to another room in the apartment and got his own weapon.

Moments later, he said, he could see the barrel of the gun sticking out from Martin's jacket as Martin turned toward Johnson on the couch.

That's when Cosby walked up to Martin and began firing, he said. He said he stayed in the apartment about 15 minutes after the shooting, praying and telling Martin his only hope was to accept Jesus.

Cosby said he eventually left, in part because he didn't want to be there if any of Martin's friends or family members arrived. He said he began walking through woods and dropped the gun in a body of water. At one point, he said, he fell to his knees.

"I think I prayed until it was daylight in that forest," he said. "When the sun came up, I was on K-10."

He walked to Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive, where he attended a Sunday morning service. Then he started walking to Topeka, where he was arrested the next day.

Cosby said there was a conspiracy among witnesses and police to tamper with evidence at the scene and make it appear Martin wasn't threatening anyone.

Zabel reminded Cosby several times to stop elaborating on answers to "yes" or "no" questions. Cosby apologized and said his life was on the line -- a comment that drew murmurs from Martin's supporters.

"Robert's life was on the line that night, wasn't it?" Zabel asked.

"Robert's actions put his life on the line," Cosby replied.

Closing arguments were to begin this morning.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.