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Trash conversations online led to men killing a man live on Facebook, testimony says

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI — What started as an online conversation between Terrell Smith and Shereif Bonner quickly turned into a family reunion to make Smith regret his words, witnesses testified in court Monday morning.

But the beating of several family members said they expected to happen outside a house in the West Willow neighborhood of Ypsilanti Township on June 28 instead became a stand shooting with Bonner, and two others killed Smith as other family members watched.

Shereif Bonner, 24, and Tyree Pitts, 18, were due to stand trial after the October 24 preliminary hearing before 14A District Judge Cedric Simpson, who found there was probable cause for the case to be dismissed. remanded to Washtenaw County Trial Court.

The pair, charged with murder and conspiracy, are among a group of six people charged in the death of Smith, 46, killed in a shooting he streamed live on Facebook.

Andre Walker, 26, was also charged in the shooting; Coreyon Joseph Brown, 19; Martita Bonner, 41, and Jermia Castion, 25.

Martita Bonner, who is Shereif Bonner’s aunt, testified during the preliminary examination that she knew a fight was going to take place and traveled with him and others to where Smith was to tape the fight, she said.

She didn’t expect anyone to be killed, she said, even after seeing her nephew carrying a gun.

“My reasoning was that we didn’t know what we were walking into. Like he needed something to protect himself,” she said.

Martita Bonner has agreed to testify against her nephew after reaching an agreement with prosecutors who, as long as she cooperates with the case, will see her charge of conspiracy to commit murder reduced to an accessory to murder charge after the fact .

Castion, who agreed to an identical deal, also testified Monday that she was driving the car used in the fatal shooting.

Police were called at 11 a.m. on June 28 to the area of ​​Nash Avenue and Tyler Road in the West Willow neighborhood of Ypsilanti Township to multiple reports of shots being fired in the area.

Deputies arrived and found a gunshot victim, Smith, who was taken to an area hospital for emergency medical treatment, police said. Smith later died from his injuries.

Related: Facebook homicide suspect extradited from Georgia, two others arrested in murder plot

Investigators searched the area and found spent casings from three different firearms and multiple bullet holes in and around the property, police said.

In total, deputies recovered four 9mm shells, six 5.7 caliber shells and 19 7.62 caliber rifle cartridges.

Smith, under the name Rell, regularly streamed chatting with followers while telling Ypsilanti and whatever was on his mind, according to previous videos posted to his Facebook pages.

In the video he was playing at the time of the shooting, Smith sat in a chair outside the house talking about Ypsilanti before saying “we have action” and getting up from his seat.

Shortly after Smith stands up and takes a few steps, a hail of gunfire can be heard for several seconds before the camera faces the sky and continues to stream and record a man calling 911.

Investigators found a Ring Doorbell camera in the area that recorded the shooting and later identified three vehicles belonging to the group after reviewing video and checking traffic cameras in the area, police said.

The vehicles, a white Ford Fusion, a black Ford Fusion and a red Cadillac SUV, belonged to the Bonners and Castion respectively.

Martita Bonner said the group decided to confront Smith over his online comments and planned to go to his location together, which was eventually found by her and Castion, she said.

Before heading to West Willow’s home, the group stopped at Shereif Bonner’s apartment where they retrieved a gun, she said.

She said she didn’t tell him anything about the gun, but told him “absolutely not,” she said.

The group then drove to Nash’s address and as Martita Bonner walked past the red SUV to get a good spot to tape the fight, she heard her nephew say, “what’s up” and then gunshots. fire, she said.

Prosecutors say the shooters were Shereif Bonner, Pitts and Brown, but no one testified to seeing them fire directly.

The three vehicles then sped up and reunited again at a gas station where Shereif Bonner told his aunt she needed to take up arms, she said.

She stopped at a close ally and opened her trunk where the weapons were stored, she said.

Shereif Bonner and Pitts went to the Briarwood Mall to buy some new clothes, leaving the clothes they wore while filming at the mall before returning home where the band reconnected.

“I wouldn’t have gone if I had known they were going to shoot him,” Martita Bonner said.

Defense attorneys David Goldstein and Robert Killewald argued against Shereif Bonner and Pitts being held to trial, calling the charges inaccurate for what happened, adding that the two key prosecution witnesses do not are unreliable and seek to save their own skins.

“This case does not involve any conspiracy, action, agreement or discussion of a shooting,” Goldstein said. “If there was a scheme or a plot, it was to go out there and kill Terrell’s ass.”

Killewald argued that most of the evidence presented at the review came from unreliable co-defendants.

“They didn’t tell the truth until they made a deal,” Killewald said. “They were just trying to save their own skin.”

A trial date has been set for November 7. Bond remains denied for Shereif Bonner and Pitts.

Walker, who was scheduled to undergo a preliminary review alongside Shereif Bonner and Pitts, waived the review by sending his case to the trial court.

Martita Bonner is scheduled for a probable cause conference hearing on October 27.

Jermia Castion is scheduled for a probable cause conference hearing on November 3.

Coreyon Joseph Brown has not been located and is still wanted for murder.

He was recently featured on an episode of “In Pursuit with John Walsh” on the ID Network.

Related: ‘In Pursuit with John Walsh’ will feature Facebook homicide fugitive

Anyone with their whereabouts can submit a tip anonymously at 734-973-7711 or provide a confidential tip to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SpeakUP.

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