A 6-year-old boy, who police say fatally shot a classmate, had to be coaxed into the witness stand Friday morning to testify in the preliminary hearing of the man accused of giving the boy access to the gun.
The boy, dressed in blue pants and a white dress shirt buttoned up to his collar, timidly climbed into the chair, and only his eyes and nose could be seen above the witness box as he answered questions in Jamelle James' hearing.
His testimony mostly consisted of shaking his head and whispering. The attorneys questioning him had to repeat what he said so the rest of the court could hear.
James, 19, is accused of leaving the .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun in a place where the boy could find it. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Kayla Rolland's death at Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township on Feb. 29.
The boy, who was on the stand about 45 minutes, said he had seen the gun and some quarters in a shoebox in James' room, but that was after Genesee County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Stamos reminded him that was what he told police.
The boy, who hasn't been charged in the case, said he remembered Kayla being shot.
But when asked if he shot Kayla, the boy shook his head "no," and blamed another classmate.
The boy's attorney, Douglas Theodoroff, said Thursday that the boy received an immunity deal for his testimony even though he is too young to be prosecuted under state law.
"I just felt it was in my client's best interest to formalize that before he would testify," Theodoroff said.
The boy's 8-year-old brother also testified this morning. He was on the stand about 30 minutes.
Before the boys could testify, Flint District Judge John L. Conover ordered all cameras, microphones and a sketch artist out of the courtroom.
Dr. Qazi Azher, a pathologist at Hurley Medical Center, testified earlier in the day that the girl probably died within minutes of being shot.
"There was a hole in the heart and the heart was bleeding. That kind of damage, a person wouldn't be conscious more than a few minutes," he said.
The boy's uncle, Sir Marcus Winfrey, who lived with James, testified Thursday that James bought the handgun and a shotgun from an acquaintance just before Christmas. He said James would sometimes show off the gun around the house and pretend to shoot people, but never did that in front of the two young boys.
"He would just point it at people to play around," Winfrey said.
Winfrey said the gun was kept in an open shoebox in James' room.
The boy's testimony was originally scheduled for Thursday, but Stamos and defense attorney Jeffrey Skinner spent the day questioning Winfrey and family friend Earthly Knight.
Like James, Winfrey appeared in 67th District Court in handcuffs with chains around his legs. Winfrey was indicted earlier this month on charges of possessing stolen guns.
Winfrey, 22, said the 6-year-old and his older brother had been stayin at his home for nine days before the shooting. Winfrey said the boys were familiar with James and sometimes called him "Uncle Mel."
Knight, 20, a friend of James' since childhood, said the handgun didn't belong to James, contradicting earlier statements he made to police. He told Stamos he might have lied to police.
"I lie sometimes. Everybody lies," he said. "What they were trying to do was make me say it was Jamelle's gun."