"Jonathan, I love you! Jonathan, I love you!" Megan Price shouted to her husband in a 911 recording on the night the two were shot outside Austin City Saloon in Lexington. Marine Cpl. Jonathan Price, 26, died.
The attackers wanted Megan Price's purse.
The 911 call was played Wednesday for jurors as opening arguments and witness testimony got underway in the trial of Quincinio Canada, 26, and Dawan Mulazim, 34. Both could face the death penalty. They are charged with murder, robbery and assault and are suspected of a string of more crimes surrounding Jonathan Price's killing on June 21, 2014. Megan Price was shot in the leg.
Andrea Kendall, one of Mulazim's attorneys, said DNA evidence excludes the two as suspects.
Jonathan Price died of a single gunshot wound to the back. "He was a Marine but he didn’t die in combat,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathryn Webster said in her opening statement. “Instead, his life was taken from him.”
Canada and Mulazim “acted together to rob and kill Jonathan Price and to rob Megan Price,” Webster said.
Canada and Mulazim also robbed three people six days earlier at the Quality Inn on Newtown Court, Webster said. A gun stolen in that robbery was the weapon used to shoot the Prices, Webster said.
Webster said the prosecution will ask jurors to hold Canada and Mulazim “accountable for what they did, to reject their claims that they’re not responsible, to reject their claims that it’s somebody else’s fault.”
Kendall, a public defender for Mulazim, said in her opening statement that DNA evidence found underneath Jonathan Price’s fingernails will exonerate Mulazim and Canada.
“DNA that excludes Dawan Mulazim. DNA that excludes Quincinio Canada,” Kendall said.
Kendall said that Lexington police, “facing immense pressure to solve a high-profile murder in a summer of high-profile murders,” made a rush to judgment as to who was responsible.
The police ignored numerous tips from citizens and law enforcement officers that pointed to other suspects, Kendall said. The murder weapon was eventually found in possession of another man, she said.
Police “had their suspects, and once this assumption was formed, it would not be revisited,” Kendall said.
Chris Tracy, a public defender for Canada, chose not to make an opening statement until later in the trial.
As the prosecution presented its evidence, the jury heard testimony from Shane Hansford of Somerset, one of three people robbed at the Quality Inn six days before the Price shootings.
Hansford said one robber, whom he identified as Mulazim, shoved a gun into his chest and said, “Give me everything you’ve got.”
The gun taken in the robbery was loaded, Hansford said.
In a July 29 meeting in Pulaski County, Lexington police showed Hansford, his girlfriend Jessica Rutherford (now his wife) and friend Mitchell Smith two series of photos. Shane Hansford said he is "100 percent sure" of his identification of Mulazim.
Jessica Hansford said she heard one robber say to the other, "C'mon, nephew." Canada is a nephew to Mulazim. Jessica Hansford didn't identify any individuals in the photos Lexington police showed her.
Smith testified that he grabbed Shane Hansford's gun off a nightstand when he heard Jessica scream twice as the robbery began.
"I cocked it and I was going to shoot whoever came through the door," Smith said. But one robber took the gun from him. When the robbers left the motel room, Smith went outside to look for them. He said he heard them giggling from woods near the motel.
Smith acknowledged telling a defense investigator that the robbers were "lucky." If he had been quicker, Smith told the investigator, he would have killed them with another gun that wasn't stolen.
The defense noted that Smith posted on social media that "if they didn't all look alike they would be dead."
Public defender Kim Green, who represents Canada, asked Smith: "All black people look alike to you?"
"No," Smith said, adding that he wrote that in anger.
Smith picked photos of Canada and another man from a photo lineup shown to him by police.
The opening statements and testimony began after 10 days of jury selection. Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine is presiding over the trial.
Testimony will resume at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Reports from the trial follow.