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Keona Holley Trial: Opening statements begin as man faces charges in Baltimore officer's murder

Trial in murder of Baltimore officer Keona Holley starts with opening statements
Trial in murder of Baltimore officer Keona Holley starts with opening statements 02:37

BALTIMORE -- Opening statements and the first set of witnesses took the stand in the trial of Elliot Knox, one of the men accused of killing Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley back in 2021.

Knox, 34, has been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and firearms offenses in Holley's death. He's also been charged in the death of Justin Johnson.

Johnson was shot and killed an hour and a half after Holley was shot on Dec. 16, 2021.

In his opening statement, Assistant State's Attorney Kurt Bjorklund brought the jury back to that night, saying, "The ambush came from her left."

He then went through where Holley was shot, what evidence was found, and the timeline between Holley and Johnson's shootings.

"Two executions, 90 minutes apart," Bjorklund said.

He told the jury the evidence is there to show Knox is responsible in both shootings: being the singular shooter in Holley's, while being one of two in Johnson's. Travon Shaw is the co-defendant in this case, but is being tried separately.

A jury has already convicted Shaw in Johnson's death earlier in the fall and is set to be sentenced in March for that. He still hasn't stood trial for Holley's death, though.

Bjorklund told the jury he'd play Knox's initial interview with homicide detectives, which he described as "hours of deception and lying." Bjorklund argues Knox admitted and confessed of his and Shaw's involvement, despite Knox trying to minimize his actions that night.

"Accept the evidence, be patient, you need to find him guilty," Bjorklund told the jury. "[Knox] executed a police officer and a citizen of this city while in their cars."

Natalie Finegar is the defense attorney representing Knox. In her opening statement, she implored the jury to not just accept whatever is presented to them.

"You are the judges in this case," Finegar said.

She also argued Knox didn't admit to shooting neither Holley or Johnson, but instead helped investigators know who Shaw was and find the guns used in the crimes.

"He gets all those pieces for them and delivers it, nothing to show he aided or abetted," Finegar said. "In reality, what he admitted to [was] accessory after the fact…but nothing to show he planned or shot either victim."

Finegar also argues because of the large response to Holley's shooting, that the response and investigation into Johnson's shooting was impacted.

The state's witnesses Tuesday were mostly officers who responded to the scenes of the shootings that day.

Several clips of body worn camera footage was played, including the moments officers found Holley in her patrol car after she was shot.

"Keep fighting, keep fighting baby," one person could be heard saying in one of the clips.

The state also called up a Baltimore Police officer part of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, or R.A.T.T., who described the moments detaining Knox. A homicide detective was also called to describe Knox's initial interview.

The woman who lived with and shared a daughter with Johnson also testified how he was good friends with Shaw, and that Shaw stopped by her home the same morning as the shooting.

Testimony will continue Wednesday morning.

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