Jacob Coyne told a Criminal Court jury on Thursday he barely knew murder victim Jalen Little and did not shoot him.
The jury in the courtroom of Judge Tom Greenholtz will resume deliberations on Friday morning in the case in which Coyne is charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. The March 2017 incident occurred at the Little residence on Oak Tree Drive.
Coyne told the jury that he was only briefly acquainted with the teen who was later gunned down, saying he had met him through Zach Chadwick. He said he had gone to Chadwick’s residence, where Eddie Valenzuela and a few others were. Chadwick had left to buy marijuana and was absent when Coyne arrived.
When Chadwick came back, Coyne said he was “screaming about something stolen” and said he wanted to get it back. Coyne told attorney John McDougal that he was just hoping to get a ride back to East Lake and went along. During the drive, he said none of the passengers spoke about shooting Jalen Little.
“When we pulled up, I had to use the restroom,” said Coyne when asked why he exited the vehicle. He said he heard arguing between Chadwick and Little, and possibly a physical altercation.
“Prior to (Jalen Little being shot), it looked like Jalen could’ve shot Zach because Jalen was mad,” said Coyne, who said he immediately tried to get away when he heard the shots. “I took off and ran back to Eduardo’s car. I was screaming to call an ambulance, and then Zach said 'Go, go, go!' ”
Prosecutors Cameron Williams and Andrew Coyle questioned why Coyne never called the police or told any family members about the incident. The defendant told his defense attorney he was in shock.
When attorney McDougal asked him whether or not he shot Jalen Little that night, Coyne had a simple response. “No.”
After being driven off, Coyne said he went to stay with his relative near Decatur, Tn. He said he did not know he was wanted by the TBI until a few days later. He mentioned that his uncle had advised him to talk to a lawyer before speaking to police or law enforcement.
Investigator Tim Pickard said Coyne’s mother had been very cooperative and had attempted to call him several times. After Det. Pickard and another investigator were unable to find Coyne at one of several locations, Coyne was placed on the TBI’s most wanted list.
They eventually found him near Decatur. They said Coyne did not try to resist, as he “immediately surrendered when encountered.” After that, Coyne was taken to jail, where he has remained to this day.
Eddie Valenzuela happened to be the driver, and he was present for most of what occurred. He said he had been playing video games at Zach Chadwick’s house with a few friends when Chadwick decided to go out to buy marijuana withJalen Little. He said, “I don’t know what exactly where they were going, just that they were going to smoke weed.”
When Chadwick came back an hour later, he was described as furious. Little had allegedly stolen money from him. After Chadwick and his friends used an app to find out where Little was, they hopped into Valenzuela’s car and drove to meet him.
“There was no discussion about violence,” said Valenzuela, who told the court he did not know about the gun. “I expected a scuffle or a fight, but not what happened that night.”
When Valenzuela arrived, he parked the car and started scrolling on his phone. Then he was startled by the sound of gunshots and muzzle flashes. Valenzuela said he saw flashes coming from the person in front of the car where Jacob was standing. He said he was “freaking out” at that point and sped away when Coyne and Chadwick got back into the car.
“I asked him (Coyne) why he shot him,” said Valenzuela, “and he said, ‘I thought he was pulling one on me, so I popped a cap in his (expletive) (expletive).’”
He said he dropped each of the passengers home, and then drove straight to his house. After briefly speaking to a loved one, Valenzuela called the police. During the recorded call, he could be heard saying, “The shooter’s name is Jacob. All I know is that he got out of the car to get the money, and then he opened fire,. I didn’t know they had a gun. I am full-fledged freaking the (expletive) out.”