CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Reginald Williams said last year he felt some peace after five men were charged in the fatal shooting of his 19-year-old daughter, Latasha Roundtree, but it didn’t bring her back and didn’t explain her death Sept. 22, 2012.
Williams said four of the men charged were friends of his daughter, and he couldn’t understand it. Other family members also said they remembered seeing three of them at Roundtree’s memorial events.
Williams, his family and the community hope to get answers this week as the murder trial of Tajh Ross begins. Ross, 20, is accused of shooting Roundtree while she was a passenger in a car heading to a party that night.
Roundtree was a former Washington High School basketball player and had accepted a partial scholarship to play at William Penn University in Oskaloosa.
The bench trial starts 1 p.m. today in Linn County District Court and trial is expected to last two weeks.
Ross is charged with first-degree murder, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and going armed with intent. He is accused of firing a gun into the car, according to a criminal complaint.
According to previous hearings for Ross and the four other defendants, who have pleaded to lesser charges, it wasn’t Roundtree who was the target, but others in the car.
The four others who have pleaded guilty in the case are:
l Yasin Muhidin, 18, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty in May to involuntary manslaughter and trafficking stolen weapons. Muhidin said he drove a car with the guns to the area. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
l Jeremiah Ellis, 19, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty in May to amended charges of accessory after the fact, conspiracy to commit a felony of going armed and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. Ellis admitted he fired a loaded handgun at the car and participated with others who planned to injure or intimidate others that night. He faces up to 17 years in prison.
l Liban Muhidin, 22, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony. He admitted to conspiring with four others to shoot at the vehicle. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
l Adrian M. Kenney, 23, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty last year to perjury and accessory after the fact. He admitted to giving false information about the crime to police, disposing of evidence and helping others flee. He faces up to seven years in prison.
The four men will testify against Ross and will be sentenced after his trial.
A sixth defendant in the case, Alleigha Church-Green, 19, of Canton, Ohio, was charged in May and has pleaded not guilty. Her trial hasn’t been set.
She is charged with intimidation with a weapon, perjury, accessory after the fact, obstruction of prosecution and false reports, according to a criminal complaint. She is accused of driving the men from the scene after the shooting, where one of the men disposed of a firearm from her vehicle.
Church-Green also is accused of providing false information to police and in depositions.
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