Four years after a brazen daylight shooting of a 30-year-old Markham father, the jury has heard the suspected killer may have targeted the victim over a gold chain.
It was Sept. 2, 2018, just after 6 p.m. when Michael Lewis was fatally shot at Coronation Park while attending an annual memorial barbeque for friend Kamal Hercules who had been killed nine years earlier. Lewis’ pregnant girlfriend and two young children from a previous relationship were also in attendance.
Andrew Douglas is on trial for first-degree murder in Lewis’ death. He has pleaded not guilty.
Crown prosecutor Tara Cassidy told the jury in her opening address that Douglas, who was rapper Smoke Dawg’s brother, was upset that Smoke Dawg had been fatally shot just two months and two days earlier. And while Lewis had nothing to do with Smoke Dawg’s death, Cassidy told the jury there was bad blood between the rapper and Lewis.
On the stand Monday, Lewis’ girlfriend Emily Chamberlain, who was testifying via zoom from an undisclosed location, recalled the day of the barbeque and how a man in a grey Nike sweatsuit arrived looking for Lewis.
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“He said, ‘let me holla at you quick.’ Michael got up and went with him and talked not long and then he shot Michael,” Chamberlain recalled, saying her boyfriend and the man in the grey tracksuit were standing behind her. She said she had been sitting in a lawn chair drinking peach juice enjoying the day, having recently found out she was pregnant with Lewis’ child.
“I think Michael knew something bad was about to happen, because he looked scared. I’d never seen Michael look like that,” Chamberlain said. She recalled overhearing her boyfriend say something like “‘look at how you’re coming at me’ and right after that he was shot.” Chamberlain said she stood up and turned around to see the shooter carrying a small grey handgun standing over Lewis, who was on the ground.
“He was basically standing over top of him and throwing the gun down in his face and Michael said ‘no, no’ and he shot him in the head,” Chamberlain continued.
Pathologist Dr. Andrew Williams testified that Lewis was shot six times –twice in the shoulder, twice in the head and twice in the back.
In the words of the Crown, the jury heard Lewis was ‘executed.’
When asked how many times Lewis was shot, Chamberlain replied, “I don’t recall. I blacked out.”
Chamberlain said the gunman was with two or three other people who ran off. Video surveillance shown to the jury showed four men in three separate vehicles pulling into a parking lot a short walk away from Coronation Park just prior to the shooting. It also captured them arriving at the park and running away after the shots were fired. One man was wearing a grey Nike sweatsuit.
Chamberlain, now a mother to a three-and-a-half year old girl, said she took a photograph of Lewis wearing a gold chain – it was shown in court. According to an agreed statement of facts, the photograph was taken in March 2017. “He had just gotten it back,” said Chamberlain, referring to the necklace in the photo.
When pressed to explain where Lewis got it back from, Chamberlain added, “He went to a dispensary to get some weed and at the dispensary, he (saw) Smoke Dawg. Andrew’s brother Smoke Dawg,” she said.
“I don’t recall if he was leaving or coming. It must have been leaving. Smoke Dawg and a couple of people walked in. Michael (saw) him and grabbed the chain off his neck. He took his chain and ran,” she explained, adding that after he got back the chain he was happy but decided to sell it to either a jeweler or another rapper in the city. “After taking back the necklace from Smoke Dawg, he expressed concerns about how dangerous it was that he had taken it back. He wanted it back for his pride. But he didn’t want it after that,” Chamberlain told Crown prosecutor Karen Simone.
“It was often on his mind,” she said. When asked if he changed his routine after getting the necklace back, Chamberlain replied, “we wouldn’t go downtown very much.”
Douglas’ lawyer Richard Posner suggested that Chamberlain’s testimony is unreliable, given some of the things she told police at the crime scene and during the preliminary hearing have changed.
The cross examination of Chamberlain continues on Tuesday.
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