New details emerged in court Tuesday that one faction in the fatal south Sacramento barbershop shootout two years ago received some important outside help both before and after the gunfire ripped through the Stockton Boulevard strip mall.
In his testimony at a preliminary hearing, the cousin of two defendants said his sister drove them away from Fly Cuts & Styles in the moments after the Dec. 14, 2010, shooting.
The cousin, Gino Harrington, 17, also testified that he knew his cousins, the brothers Lonnie Orlando Mitchell Jr., 25, and Louis James Mitchell, 20, had some heavy firepower at their disposal an AK-47 assault rifle and a TEC-9 machine pistol, which he'd even held himself.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett suggested in his questioning that the witness delivered the weapons to the Mitchell brothers, who pulled them out from beneath their smocks and started firing when they came under attack in their barber chairs.
Harrington denied it. He said he only accompanied his sister to the barbershop to get his hair cut. But he testified in the Sacramento Superior Court hearing that his sister, Justine Harrington, told him when they went to the barbershop, "You're not getting your hair cut here right now."
Triplett's suggestion that the guns were brought to the barbershop, combined with Justine Harrington's purported remark for her brother to stay out of the shop, could represent evidence of advance planning by the Mitchells.
It also could figure into their case for self-defense: Authorities have confirmed that two shootout rivals were in the barbershop beforehand and telephoned people on their side to tip them off to the presence of enemies at Fly Cuts.
The hearing is scheduled to continue today in front of Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle. It is expected to last at least a few more sessions before the judge makes a decision whether to order the six defendants to stand trial.
A stray bullet from the shootout killed Monique Nelson, 30, who used her body to shield her 2-year-old son from the gunfire. Nelson worked at her family's bookstore and newsstand at Sacramento International Airport.
The shootout also took the life of Marvion Dashawn Barksdale, 20. Prosecutors did not file a murder charge over the death of Barksdale, who authorities say led the attack on the Mitchells.
Along with the Mitchells, the four men accused of attacking them are charged in the case. They are Marvion Barksdale's cousin, Charles Barksdale, 31; Larry Dean Jones Jr., 30, and James Leo Carney III, 33, the two who were in the barbershop before the shootout and who allegedly called in the tip; and Dominique Marcell Lott, 29. Authorities say a bullet fired by Carney's gun killed Monique Nelson.
At Tuesday's hearing, Gino Harrington testified reluctantly and only under a grant of immunity that nothing he said could be used against him. On one occasion, he exchanged smiles with his cousin Louis Mitchell. He also sported a tattoo on his right arm that attorneys said the Mitchells share. It reads "AFNF." Harrington testified the letters stand for "All Family, No Friends."
Harrington said when he and his sister drove to the barbershop just before the shooting, his cousin Lonnie Mitchell spoke to them and then his sister told him his haircut would be delayed. He testified Lonnie Mitchell gave him his car keys so he could listen to the stereo. Harrington said when the shooting stopped, his sister called him and told him to drive the car away.
Justine Harrington was ordered Tuesday to return to court today to testify. She drove the two Mitchell brothers off after the shooting, her brother said. Louis Mitchell was quickly detained by sheriff's detectives. Lonnie Mitchell was arrested two days later, heading south on Interstate 5 on the Grapevine, authorities said.
In other testimony Tuesday, a sheriff's detective said one of five men injured in the shooting avoided more serious harm when a pistol aimed at him by one of the combatants did not discharge as the suspect pulled the trigger.
Detective Robert Stewart said the injured man had been grazed by a bullet. The man assisted another customer who suffered a more serious gunshot wound to the stomach, Stewart testified, and then ran out the back where he found himself faced off with two of the suspects.
When the .45-caliber chrome revolver failed to fire, the suspect tried to carjack a motorist behind the barbershop, Stewart said. The man tried to tackle one of the two suspects out back, but they jumped into a gray Sebring that drove off with a third man behind the wheel.