KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Two minors testifed in Kalamazoo County Court at the preliminary examination for Nasi Ben-Yaisrael. Police say he is accused of killing Deshontae Ellis, 18, at the Red Roof Inn in Oshtemo Township late Saturday night on January 2.
The first minor, who was identified in court as a 16-year-old relative of the shooting victim, told a packed courtroom that he saw the gun because it was first pointed at him while sitting in the car. Then he said Ben-Yaisrael went to the other side of the car.
"What happened when the gentlemen you saw went around the car?" asked Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Williams. "Deshontae was trying to get back into the car and that's when he got shot."
The teenager said that Ellis was driving both of them and a few other girls to a party at the Red Roof Inn. When they arrived, a fight broke out in the parking lot. Ellis exited the car to try and stop it. When he returned, he was shot.
The second witness called was a 15-year-old who said she saw a tall figure wearing a black hoodie pull out a gun. She wasn't sure if it was Ben-Yaisrael. But once the shot was fired, everyone ran away and some went back inside the motel.
Several friends and family members of Ellis were in attendance, including his mother, who wore a shirt with his picture on it. She cried throughout the hearing.
"The young man in this case was shot with a gun under circumstances involving a situation where he was attempting to break up a fight," said District Judge Richard A. Santoni. "And the individual shot him. He did not attack the individual. He did not do anything to provoke the shooting he was simply trying to break up, stop a fight."
Judge Santoni has order Ben-Yaisrael to stand trial on charges of open murder and felony firearms.