A surprise defense witness told a Criminal Court jury on Thursday morning that he twice heard Terrance Etchison threaten to kill Jamaal Byrd at the Kanku's convenience store at Wilcox and Tunnel boulevards on Feb. 27, 2010.
Edward McCollum was the lone witness for the defense in the case in which Byrd is facing a murder charge in the courtroom of Judge Rebecca Stern.
The witness said he went to Kanku's to get a pack of cigarettes, parking his Buick up front. He said as soon as he entered the store he heard a loud voice and "unkind words.
He said he did not know anyone inside the store at the time, but he said he now knows that it was Etchison threatening Byrd. He said Etchison told him, "I'll kill you, m----- f-----."
Mr. McCollum said he heard Etchison say the same thing to Byrd outside near the gas pumps. He said he then got in his car and sped off as he heard a gunshot. He said he never heard Byrd say anything.
He said he had not come forward earlier and was never interviewed by police because "I did not want to get involved."
But he said he later saw Byrd as a customer at M&J Shoes on Brainerd Road, where he has worked for four years. He said he told Byrd what he heard, then he was interviewed recently by Byrd's attorney, Fred Hanzelik.
The defense put on no other proof, and closing arguments were to begin in the afternoon.
Dr. James Metcalfe, medical examiner, said the victim died of a gunshot wound to the upper chest.
The state also called a witness who told of seeing Etchison hand some items to someone else, then heard toward Byrd at the gas pumps.
The state presented a video that showed Byrd pull a gun and fire and Etchison slump to the ground.
Byrd is free on a $250,000 bond.