Witnesses testify, evidence examined at first trial of Ed Jemeal Thomas

The trial of Ed Jemeal Thomas for the murder of Eastern Michigan University wide receiver Demarius Reed began Wednesday.

Thomas is charged with open murder and armed robbery. The assistant prosecuting attorney of Washtenaw County, Nimish Ganatra, alleged Thomas was a willing participant in Reed’s murder along with Kristopher Pratt who pleaded guilty to second degree murder last week.

On Oct. 17, Reed went out with his teammates and friends to Papio’s, a club in Ypsilanti. The prosecution maintains that Thomas and Pratt, who were also at Papio’s, noticed that Reed was dressed nicely and followed him home to the University Green apartment complex with the intent of robbing him. Shots were fired during a struggle, killing Reed.

The defense maintains that although Thomas was present during Reed’s murder, he was not a willing participant.

During the police’s investigation of Reed’s death, a shell casing was found at the scene. Weeks later, Pratt was arrested at the Harper Woods mall in Wayne County for attempted robbery.

The gun used to rob the man was sent to the Michigan state forensics lab. The forensics team found that the shell casings from Reed’s murder matched the gun Pratt used in the Harper Woods crime.

Julius Shelby, Reed’s teammate and roommate, was the first witness to testify.

According to Shelby, he and Reed left for Papio’s at 11:00 p.m. and stayed until 1:30 a.m.. From Papio’s they went to McDonald’s, and then waited for their friends at Cornel Courts apartments. After waiting for an unknown period of time, Shelby and Reed felt their friends were taking too long to arrive at Cornel Courts apartments.

Shelby left in his vehicle, and Reed stayed for an unknown period of time, also leaving in his own vehicle.

Shelby said he arrived home first. After falling asleep around 2:30 a.m., Shelby said he woke up at 7:00 a.m. in order to make it to a workout session at 7:30 a.m..

As Shelby was going downstairs he found Reed in the stairwell. After finding no pulse, he dialed 911 and was given CPR instructions which he did with the help of another woman, Patricia Thompson.

“I opened the door and it took me a second to figure out what it was,” Thompson said, “I saw a black man trying to help another man.”

She said Shelby asked for help and she came down to aid him.

Reed was already entering rigor mortis when the detective Robert Proto arrived.
“The victim was blood covered and lifeless,” Proto said. “EMS had already pronounced him dead.”

Reed had suffered two gunshot wounds. One was to the left part of the chest from a hollow point bullet. A second full metal jacket bullet fired at close range entered his cheek. Only one weapon was recovered.

Brown seized on this point because although the Michigan State Police Forensic Labratory has the ability to do a ballistics test to confirm that both bullets were fired from the same gun, the test was not performed. According to Proto, one of the bullet’s caliber was a .38 and the other was a 9mm.

More than a dozen witnesses testified during Wednesday’s session and it is likely the prosecution will rest tomorrow.

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