Courtney Birt Gets 20-Year Prison Term In 2013 Slaying Of Howard Student, 16

Friday, February 22, 2019

Courtney Birt has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2013 slaying of a 16-year-old Howard High student. The victim was shot multiple times, including in the head.

Birt, who is now 24, was sentenced to 20 years in state prison.

There was earlier a question about Birt's competency to stand trial, but it was ruled that he was competent.

Three witnesses told police they saw Birt, who was 18 at the time, shoot Lamunta Williams.

Police responded at 10:19 a.m. to an abandoned house at 2620 Carr St. and found the lifeless body of the victim lying near the front door.

The suspect was last seen fleeing the scene on foot headed toward the area of Howard High School. Due to the proximity of the school with the shooting, officials placed the school on lock-down. 

Birt was later charged with criminal homicide and booked at the Hamilton County Jail.

The three witnesses said they were hanging out with the victim at the abandoned house when Birt arrived and began shooting. They said Birt had been saying for the last several weeks that he would kill Lamunta Williams when he saw him because he had hit his child's mother, Tylisha Henderson, during an altercation on Feb. 14.

One of the witnesses said Birt a few days earlier had tried to get her to set up the victim for him.

At a preliminary hearing, a detective testified that the victim had 11 bullet holes in his body and had been shot nine times.

The three juveniles who allegedly witnessed the incident said they first went to a laundromat across from Howard, then moved on to the house around 8 a.m.

They said Williams was fearful that Birt was coming after him. A male Howard student said he thought a girl who was at the house was tipping off Birt to where they were. He said at one point he took a cellphone away from her.

The same student said as they were walking to the house that someone who was hostile toward Williams yelled at him from a passing car.  

Witnesses said the victim was a member of the Crips gang and Birt is a rival Blood member.

The first female, speaking in a voice that was barely audible, said she heard a knock on the door about 10 a.m., then heard a shot. "Everybody froze," she said.

She said she saw Birt wearing a hoodie, a red toboggan and black jeans and holding a gun.

The witness said Birt had earlier threatened to kill Williams.

The girl said after the shooting stopped, "I tried to get him off the floor. He wouldn't move."

A second female who said Birt is her cousin said she was on a CARTA bus with Birt the previous Friday and he told her, "I'm going to kill your little boyfriend." She said Birt had had previous run-ins with Williams and he was mad because of an incident between his girlfriend and Williams. 

She said that day Williams was fearful that Birt was coming after him and he had her keep looking out the door. She said she spotted Birt coming and she warned Williams to run. She said Williams stayed in the living room, expecting there would be a fight.

But she said Birt came inside, reached in his pocket and pulled out a black handgun. She said the first shot he fired struck the victim in the face. Detective Karl Fields said the autopsy stated that the victim died from a shot to the head.

The girl said when Birt had first pulled the gun she struggled with him, but she was unable to get the weapon away from him.

She said after the shooting she ran out into the street screaming.

Detective Fields said the girlfriend of Birt told him he was upset because of an incident at Howard that occurred between her and Williams on Valentine's Day.

The detective said he got the girlfriend out of the lockdown at Howard to interview her soon after the shooting.

He said Birt surrendered early that afternoon.

Judge Clarence Shattuck at the hearing called it "a tragic situation that might not have occurred had these young people not been skipping school. It is not a good commentary on our community." 


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