A war veteran testified Tuesday about hearing what sounded like a firefight in his neighborhood the night a man was killed after prosecutors said the victim and two others tried to steal a kilo of cocaine.
David Collins, a former infantryman who served in Vietnam, recalled hearing four rounds he thought were fired on the street in front of his house in the 2500 block of NW 36 Street, followed by 15 to 20 more rounds.
“That's when the real firefight started,” Collins told a jury hearing the case against Geary Lynn Birdine.
Birdine, 34, of Oklahoma City, is charged with first-degree murder in the March 30, 2011, shooting death of Christopher Bryan Robinson, 25, outside a residence in the 2600 block of SW 38 Street.
Prosecutors allege Robinson, Birdine and a third man intended to rob Mexican drug dealers of a kilo of cocaine valued at $28,000 when Robinson was killed during a gunfight.
Under Oklahoma's felony murder law, a person committing a felony can be charged with first-degree murder if an accomplice dies during the crime.
Also charged in the case is co-defendant Willie Jerome Boyd, whose trial is pending.
Boyd, 35, could testify against Birdine, prosecutors said.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Gridley, in his opening statement Tuesday, told jurors Birdine fired at least 11 shots from an assault rifle toward a duplex at SW 38 Street near the corner of Villa Place in southwest Oklahoma City.
Birdine, the prosecutor alleged, was circling the block in his girlfriend's car and returned fire when shots were fired at Robinson and Boyd from inside the duplex.
Two other vehicles, believed to be those of the drug dealers, were seen speeding away from the scene after the shooting, prosecutors said.
Robinson was shot dead in his car, a white Dodge Challenger parked in the driveway, before he could fire his semi-automatic handgun, Gridley said.
Boyd, who went inside the house with Robinson, fled the scene and was picked up by Birdine a short time later in front of a home in the 2500 block of SW 36 Street, the prosecutor said.
“Christopher Robinson lost his life because of a bad plan that went bad,” said Gridley, adding that the man arranged to buy the drugs and then decided to rob the dealers.
Collins also told jurors he saw a black vehicle parked in the intersection of SW 38 Street and Villa Place that appeared to be having a gunfight with the occupants of a house.
He testified seeing a man prosecutors believe to be Boyd, hobbling up Villa Place and falling over a fence before the same black car circled back, helped him into the vehicle and drove away.
“He was more stumbling than he was walking,” Collins said. “I really felt like he had been hit.”
Several witnesses, including a neighbor, testified hearing multiple gunshots and seeing a dark-colored car parked in the intersection during the incident.
But none, Collins included, were able to identify the occupant or occupants of the car.