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'Incredible Stupidity': DA, Defense Attorney Deliver Opening Statements In Rahmael Holt Trial

GREENSBURG (KDKA) -- Opening statements are now complete as the trial of the man accused of fatally shooting New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw gets underway today in Westmoreland County.

Rahmael Sal Holt, 31, arrived at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg Monday morning in a navy suit, black shirt and blue tie.

Investigators say Holt is accused of shooting Officer Shaw following a traffic stop back in November 2017.

The Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office plans to seek the death penalty if the jury finds Holt guilty of first-degree murder.

The first two witnesses on the stand Monday afternoon were law enforcement officers.

Westmoreland County Det. Ray Dupilka said he was called to assist with the investigation. He testimony went along with surveillance video that was entered into evidence.

The second witness was Officer James Noble, formerly of the New Kensington Police and now of the Monroeville Police. He testified that he was patrolling one street over and heard gunshots and rushed to Officer Shaw's location. He began CPR on the wounded officer, who briefly opened his eyes and looked at him, but then went unconscious again.

During his opening statements, DA John Peck told the jury they have to decide whether Holt had intent to kill Officer Shaw. He said Holt fired his weapon at "a vital part of the officer's body."

WATCH: KDKA's Meghan Schiller reports on new surveillance footage released today

Officer Shaw was shot in his shoulder twice, in the area of the lungs and another bullet hit his vest. Three other bullets were found in houses nearby.

Peck said that's a total of six shots fired. He said Holt did not surrender, but instead kept running.

The DA also talked about key witness Taevon Harper. He was just released from jail and is on parole.

Investigators say Harper was driving the vehicle Holt was in when Officer Shaw tried to pull them over.

While addressing the court, Peck called the incident "incredible stupidity" and said it was clear Holt "valued his escape more than another person's life."

However, Holt's attorney claims his client did not shoot Officer Shaw.

He didn't argue with the video's authenticity but said this: "I see a white police officer chasing a black male, and that's about it. I don't think there's any way any reasonable jury can conclude that's the defendant."

During his opening statements, defense attorney Timothy Dawson told the jury his "client deserves a fair trial" and asked for a moment of silence to honor the fallen officer.

Dawson said the trial is a matter of life and death, and that there is no eyewitness, no murder weapon found and no confession. He added that the surveillance video is unclear.

"The testimony today was about the tragic shooting death of Brian Shaw, so we had very few questions about that," said Dawson.

"They did get into the location of a cell phone they're trying to link to the defendant."

As for the witnesses set to testify, Dawson said the jury must decide if they are credible and have anything to gain by testifying, citing pending charges against them.

The jury was seated last week for the trial.

Twelve jurors and four alternate jurors will hear the case.

During the trial, according to KDKA's Meghan Schiller, male juror 11 was removed for not following the judge's instruction and replaced.

Seven witnesses were called including several law enforcement officers that responded to the shooting of Officer Brian Shaw.

Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.

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