STAMFORD -- If the state cannot get its star witness to testify Wednesday in the murder trial of Norwalk resident Lamont "Lil Monty" McCrae, for stabbing Vonterrell George to death in June 2008, a prosecutor said he would try to get the woman's testimony from McCrae's first trial admitted as evidence.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Valdes warned Stamford Judge Richard Comerford he would argue to admit Ashley McBride's testimony from McCrae's May 2012 trial if she did not show up for court for a second day on Wednesday.
Valdes' warning capped the trial's second day, which saw the state's first witness to the murder take the stand to accuse McCrae, then 16, of sneaking up and stabbing George, 19, in front of a Chinese take out restaurant and a crowd of 15 to 20 on Woodward Avenue late in the evening of June 13, 2008.
McCrae, now 20, has been in jail since his arrest in March 2010
McCrae's first time around with a jury in May 2012 ended in a mistrial after jurors, during deliberations, were mistakenly allowed to see evidence pointing to McCrae's guilt that had been suppressed at trial.
Although McBride performed effectively for the prosecution in that trial, she has been a question mark leading in to this trial with police and the state's attorneys office having trouble locating her.
Detective Mark Edwards testified Tuesday that he delivered a subpoena to McBride at the beginning of last week to compel her to come to court Monday. McBride showed up, but with others before her on the witness list, did not get to testify.
She was served another subpoena Monday to appear at court Tuesday, but did not show and no one could reach her at work or at home, Edwards said on the stand.
Valdes said if McBride disappeared after police and his office make a good faith attempt to find her, he would be forced to use her testimony from the last trial, which he said was lengthy. Another witness police talked to that helped with their investigation resulting in McCrae's arrest -- Michael Patterson -- was shot down on a South Norwalk street in October 2010, only two months after McCrae's arrest.
McBride and Patterson had a child together before his death.
On Monday, Michael Preston, 25, took the stand and said he saw George walk out of a liquor store at about 8:15 p.m. that night. Although Preston said he was pretty sure of the time, police records and a surveillance camera in the area show the stabbing took place at about 11:15 p.m., almost three hours after Preston said it did.
Preston, who grew up with George, said he saw another man pass a knife to McCrae and watched the teenager walk over to George and begin "punching" him in the chest.
Before McCrae and George fell to the ground and he saw blood on George's shirt, Preston said he knew McCrae was stabbing his friend because he saw the pained expression on George's face.
As McCrae, wearing a burgundy shirt and tie with his hair in a ponytail, watched Preston testify with a level gaze, his expression did not change.
George, who was armed with a gun, then got up and chased his attacker down the street, firing at least one shot at his assailant, police said. He chased the man onto Burritt Avenue, where he collapsed into the street leaving a large pool of blood where he fell. He was pronounced dead at Norwalk Hospital.
Under cross-examination, McCrae's attorney, David Bothwell, asked Preston why it took him nearly three years after his good friend died to tell police he was an eyewitness to the murder.
Preston admitted when he decided to come forward, he was in jail charged with multiple counts of robbery, conspiracy, assault, felony weapons possession and violation of probation. Bothwell suggested Preston was only coming up with a story and selling it to the prosecutor in hopes of getting his prison time lessened.
According to an agreement Preston made with the state, he will serve five years in prison and three years probation for pleading guilty to a second-degree robbery charge and probation violation if he testifies truthfully at trial. Other charges, including first-degree robbery and second-degree assault and felony weapons charges will be dropped, the agreement stated.
Bothwell asked Preston if he knew he faced a maximum prison sentence of 58 years for all the charges. Preston said he knew he would not get the maximum.
When Bothwell asked if he figured he would get more than five years in prison, Preston said yes.
As Bothwell pressed the point, Preston kept saying that coming forward was the right thing for him to do at the time.