Tajh Ross Murder Trial: Witness Testifies About Shots Fired When Latasha Roundtree Was Killed

By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An 18-year-old testified Wednesday she heard talk of “shooting up a house” and then later saw Tajh Ross, dressed in a clown suit, grabbing a handgun out of a car trunk and then pointing it at a car on Sept. 22, 2012.

Alexus Omar was at her friend’s house on the Southwest side where Latasha Roundtree and her friends were headed for a party and where Roundtree was shot and killed.

Omar said Liban Muhidin and Ross showed up at the party in clown suits, along with Yasin Muhidin, Adrian Kenney and Jeremiah Ellis. Then Ross and Liban Muhidin took guns out of the trunk of the car and she heard gunshots as a white car went by the house.

According to Tuesday’s testimony, Roundtree was a passenger in that car when she was killed.

Omar then heard several more shots fired. She started to run and then turned around when she heard Ross yell “Duck, Liban (Muhidin).”

Omar was across the street from where Ross was standing but she saw him pointing a gun at the car.

Ross, 20, is on trial this week for first-degree murder. He is accused of shooting and killing Roundtree, 19, of Cedar Rapids, near 649 16th Ave. SW, Sept. 22, 2012.

Ross also faces charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and going armed with intent. A criminal complaint accuses Ross firing a gun into the car.

According to testimony, Roundtree wasn’t the target in this planned shooting but she was the victim who died from a gunshot wound to the head. Yasin and Liban Muhidin, Kenney and Ellis have pleaded guilty in this case to lesser charges and will testify against Ross.

Omar said she saw Ross with a handgun in his waistband and heard people refer to him having a “40” (.40 caliber). Jeremiah Ellis, another defendant who was at the party, also had a gun on him.

Omar said an audio recording of the gunshots, introduced Tuesday in court, is the sounds she heard that night. She heard one shot, a pause and then four or five more shots. She admitted on cross examination that she never saw anyone fire a gun, only Ross holding and pointing a gun.

Omar also said she left with others after the shooting, met up with Ross, Ellis, Kenney, the Muhidin brothers and others who were at the house and they talked about a “story” they would tell about the shooting.

Omar also said she heard Ross say he tossed his gun in a trash bin. On the way to Wal-Mart to met with the others, they stopped on Wilson Avenue and Ross threw Jeremiah Ellis’ backpack over a fence. The backpack had a gun in it, she said.

In other testimony, Colby Gerber, formerly of Marion, testified his two guns, a .40 caliber handgun and an AK-47, were stolen from his truck Sept. 10, 2012. He put green fingernail polish on the gun sites to distinguish them. There was also ammunition stolen.

After he reported the theft to police, they contacted him later and said the .40 caliber handgun was part of a homicide investigation. He identified the handgun as his but the ammunition in the magazine had been changed out. He had a certain brand of bullets and when it came into police possession, it had different one.

Todd Weimer, Ross’ attorney, asked him if police told him anything else about burglary of his guns.

Gerber said police told him there had been several burglaries from cars in the area that night.

The prosecution continues its case 9 a.m. Thursday in Linn County District Court.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@sourcemedia.net

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