The trial of the teen accused of supplying a gun used in a Rockville Metro station shooting continued Wednesday as witnesses and even the victim admitted in court that they lied to the police.
Prosecutors are trying to link the defendant, 18-year-old Tavares D. Harris, to the gun used in the May 18 shooting. Witnesses called to the stand Wednesday admitted they did not actually see Harris hand a gun to the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Kevin Nguyen. Nguyen is being charged as an adult.
One of the witnesses — Amine Younsi, 17 — admitted to lying to police when he was first asked about the shooting, telling Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorneys Patrick Mays and Marybeth Ayres that he “didn’t want to be known as the one who basically told on everyone.”
The victim, whom The Gazette is not naming because he is underage, also took the stand Wednesday, telling attorneys he initially lied to detectives about who had shot him because he “wanted retaliation” for the shooting.
While the victim could not place the gun in Harris’ hand, he told prosecutors that the confrontation between himself and Nguyen stemmed from a comment he had made about wanting to rob Nguyen on May 17. The victim said he had only been joking, but he thought Harris overheard him and likely told Nguyen.
“I just said it as a joke to one friend,” the victim said, adding that Harris had been standing nearby. “... He’s the only one who could have heard it.”
Younsi also told attorneys Tuesday that he had overheard Harris and Nguyen talking about the victim’s comment before school on the day of the shooting. During the discussion, Younsi said he overheard Harris say, “We’ll see him after school, we’ll handle it; We’ve got something for him,” in reference to the victim.
Barry Helfand pointed out that Younsi, who is a friend of the victim, had been text messaging the victim about the case immediately before Younsi took the stand Tuesday.
Younsi was also given a ride home from court by the victim and the victim’s father Tuesday, Helfand said in court Wednesday, implying that either Younsi or the victim could have altered their testimony based on what the other told them happened in court. In particular, Helfand pointed out that Younsi had never mentioned seeing Nguyen motioning to Harris in the tunnel before the shooting in earlier interviews with police.
“Are you sure you saw all this? How come today is the first time you told anybody this very important fact?” Helfand asked Younsi.
“Because I didn’t want to get involved,” Younsi said.
The victim admitted he had texted Younsi before the trial Tuesday and given him a ride that night, but denied discussing any facts about the case or testimony when questioned by Helfand Wednesday.
Both Harris and Nguyen face two counts each of attempted first- and second-degree murder as well as one count each for the use of a handgun in a violent crime and conspiracy to commit murder, according to charging documents. Montgomery County police said Nguyen shot the teen four times and also shot a female bystander at the crowded Metro station.
Nguyen is scheduled to stand trial in December for his role in the crime.