JACKSON, MI — The first of two planned trials in a fatal Jackson shooting case is scheduled to begin in September.
Raheim Armstrong, 34, is set to appear before Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson on Sept. 20 to begin a jury trial, according to court records.
Armstrong, 34, is accused of shooting Ronald Demetrius Owens on Oct. 27, 2017, in the 200 block of W. South Street at the Summit Township border. Owens, 32, later died at Henry Ford Allegiance Health after suffering a single gunshot wound to the head, police said.
Police believe Prettyattie Cooper, 46, acted as Armstrong’s driver to the scene of the crime, and his getaway driver away from it.
Witnesses testified during a preliminary examination that Owens was killed in a cocaine deal that quickly turned into a murder.
Cooper told police Armstrong had her pick him up around 9 p.m. the night of the shooting, but he didn’t say where they were headed. Armstrong told her “he was going to hit a lick,” which she told police she understood to mean a robbery or other criminal act.
They first stopped near Ganson Street and Steward Avenue where Armstrong allegedly pointed a gun at a subject and fled with the drugs, Cooper told police.
In the South Street incident, Cooper told police she witnessed Armstrong point his gun at Owens and fire roughly five seconds later before speeding away.
On June 29, Wilson approved a request to host separate trials for Armstrong and Cooper, who are co-defendants each charged with open murder and felony firearms.
Defense attorney Andrew Kirkpatrick, who represents Cooper, plans to argue his client acted under duress, he told Wilson in June. In a reversal of a previous decision, Wilson approved a request to grant the two defendants separate trials.
Wilson also approved a personal recognizance bond with a GPS tether for Cooper, allowing her a conditional release for jail.
Kirkpatrick, along with Armstrong’s attorney George Lyons, both argued for the pair to be separated, as there was a likelihood Cooper may claim she was forced by Armstrong to go along with the crime.
“If tried together, there is a possibility Cooper will be on the witness stand and will incriminate Armstrong saying he forced her,” Kirkpatrick said. “They will be pitted against each other. It doesn’t take a judicial scholar to see what my defense will be at trial.”
A trial for Cooper has not yet been scheduled. Both defendants will appear before Wilson for pretrial conferences on Aug. 31.
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