Pottstown killer claimed self-defense in statement after fatal shooting – The Mercury
NORRISTOWN – Pottstown man accused of using a shotgun to fatally shoot another man in the borough, who prosecutors say was unarmed, told a detective he “had to eliminate the aggressor âduring a disruption in the development of Bright Hope.
âAs a man, I had to eliminate the abuser. I shot him. I didn’t want him to hurt another family like he did mine, âArmani Cortez Rhedrick reportedly told a detective in an initial statement to authorities a day after the deadly September 23 shooting. 2019 on Otis Harris, 31. .
âThree quick hits. I only loaded three shells and fired three times, âRhedrick said, according to testimony at his homicide trial.
Rhedrick’s six-page statement from September 24, 2019 was read to a jury Tuesday by Montgomery County Detective John Wittenberger, who testified that Rhedrick was calm, attentive and did not show up under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he has voluntarily agreed to give the statement.
“The accused told me he wanted to tell me what really happened, that it was self-defense,” Wittenberger recalls.
In his statement, Rhedrick, who was 20 at the time of the shooting, claimed that Harris and another man whose name he did not know had come to his home in the 400 block of West King Street and began to l ‘assault. Rhedrick claimed Harris said “We’re about to leave you,” which Rhedrick claimed to have taken as a threat to kill him. Rhedrick claimed that when Harris hit him, he caught a glimpse of what he believed to be a gun the second man possessed.
Rhedrick claimed he went into a closet and retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it and then fired, hitting Harris, as the second man fled.
In the statement, Rhedrick said Harris was unarmed but shot Harris because he feared Harris would allow the second man to harm him.
Rhedrick’s statement echoes what defense attorney Evan TL Hughes argued at trial that Rhedrick acted in self-defense when Harris invaded the house he shared with his girlfriend and baby and attacked him.
But Deputy District Attorney Samantha Cauffman called the shooting a “cold blooded execution” and alleged that Rhedrick committed “premeditated, unjustifiable and intentional murder.” Cauffman and Co-Prosecutor Kelli McGinnis have suggested that Rhedrick’s statements are selfish and that the unarmed Harris never assaulted Rhedrick.
Rhedrick’s statement is also at odds with what prosecution witnesses said they observed.
Testimony revealed that the investigation began around 8:27 a.m. on September 23, when Pottstown Police responded to a report of a shooting in the Scott Street unit block. Arriving officers found Harris on the sidewalk outside a residence.
“Harris sustained an apparent gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene,” wrote Wittenberger and Pottstown Detective Corporal Michael Breslin in the arrest affidavit, adding that three shotgun shells caliber 12 had been recovered from the area of ââHarris’s body.
An autopsy concluded that Harris had died of multiple gunshot wounds and that the mode of death was homicide.
Prosecution witnesses said the shooting took place minutes after a physical altercation between Rhedrick and Harris’ nephew Rayshawn McKay at the Rhedrick West King Street home. McKay said Monday that after the brawl he returned to Harris’ home on Scott Street, where he resided, and told Harris about the altercation.
Harris, according to prosecution witnesses, then came out and witnesses said they heard three gunshots within minutes. Prosecutors maintain Harris was unarmed. McKay testified that he was upstairs in Harris’ house when he heard the gunshots.
The Rhedrick West King Street Residence is just 50 yards from the site of the alleged shooting.
McKay has repeatedly denied Hughes’ suggestion that he and Harris invaded Rhedrick’s house while armed with firearms and McKay maintained that Harris was not present during the previous altercation that ‘he had had with Rhedrick.
Jurors appeared riveted on Tuesday as prosecutors played for the jury a recording of the 911 call McKay made shortly after the alleged shooting. Relatives of Harris could be heard screaming emotionally in the background during the call.
Witnesses reported observing Rhedrick carrying a rifle wrapped in a blanket, getting into a silver Hyundai sedan and leaving the scene of the alleged shooting. During the investigation, authorities seized a 12-gauge shotgun allegedly used by Rhedrick in the shooting.
County Detective Eric Nelson, a gun expert, showed the jury how the shotgun works. Nelson also compared the models of injuries found on Harris’ body to the models produced when he tested the weapon during the investigation.
“The shotgun was within 10 feet of the deceased when it was fired,” Nelson told jurors Tuesday.
Rhedrick, now 22, faces charges of first and third degree murder, possession of a firearm, possession of a criminal instrument and tampering or fabricating physical evidence.
If convicted of first degree murder, intentional murder, Rhedrick faces life imprisonment. A conviction for third degree murder, a murder committed with malicious intent, carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
The trial before Judge William R. Carpenter is expected to last approximately four days.