MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Both sides rested Tuesday morning in the capital murder trial of a Huntsville man accused in a drive-by shooting that killed a toddler.
The capital murder trial of 30-year-old Martin Arrendondo Evenes got underway Monday at the Madison County Courthouse before Circuit Judge Patrick Tuten.
Evenes was one of three charged with capital murder in the 2018 death of 3-year-old “Sweet Livia” Robinson.
Police said the drive-by shooting happened at a home on 615 Murray Road in March 2018.
Brittany Kingston, 31, and Dominique Russell, 30, are also charged in Livia’s death. Their trials are set to take place after Evenes’ trial, according to recent court filings.
This morning prosecutors called a police investigator to testify before resting its case. The investigator testified during his interview Evenes initially denied any involvement in the shooting. But, according to testimony, Evenes eventually said he fired the shots “to send a message.”
The defense rested without calling any witnesses.
The court also heard argument on possible lesser charges –as the defense as argued Evenes had no intent to kill the child. The two sides stipulated to changing Count 1 of the charges against him from capital murder — killing a child under 14 — to the lesser offenses of reckless or manslaughter. But Count 2, capital murder by firing from or into a vehicle, remains.
The jury is due back at 1:30 to hear closing arguments.
The case has moved quickly, with testimony getting under way Monday afternoon.
At Evenes’ preliminary hearing in April of 2018, Investigator Frank Rosler with the Huntsville Police Department said Evenes confessed to firing shots at the house. But Rosler also testified Evenes never said that he was aiming for a specific person.
In his opening statement, Evenes’ attorney Brian Beck argued it’s not about disproving that Evenes fired the fatal shot — because he did. The defense argued the issue under Alabama law is proving that he had the intent to shoot and kill.
“Nobody is expecting him to get away with it,” he told the jury. “We ask that the punishment reflect the level of intent.”
Officers say witnesses told them the shooting stemmed from an ongoing argument. They say a confrontation on social media continued through the evening. Witnesses Monday testified that a Facebook argument had started the day of the shooting where a number of threats were made.
Among those who testified Monday were the child’s mother, MeMe McComb; the mother’s friend, Ashley Waldrop; Brittany Kingston who was in the back seat of the car when the shots were fired. and Dominique “Deedee” Russell, who drove the car and owned the gun.
According to testimony McComb and her daughter were standing by the door when the shooting happened.
Brittany Kingston testified she wanted to be taken to see her mother at a Windmill store off U.S. 72, but Evenes wanted to go to the house where McComb lived. She testified she and Evenes were drunk all that day.
Russell testified he kept the gun in his glove compartment and while they were driving Evenes asked if the gun was still there. And, Russell testified Evenes was the shooter.
Testimony wrapped up around 4:35 p.m. Monday.
Madison County District Attorney’s Office Chief Trial Attorney Timothy Douthit is the prosecutor for all three cases. He said none of the three suspects will face the death penalty if they are convicted of capital murder. Under Alabama law a capital murder conviction carries only one of two sentences, the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.