SAGINAW, Michigan: Police say a session of the popular video game Fortnite recorded audio of a scuffle inside a Zilwaukee home that led to gunfire and a woman suffering from multiple bullet wounds.
Portions of the recording were played during the preliminary examination of Cody R. Nelson, the 18-year-old who prosecutors say shot the woman in his house. Nelson’s hearing took place the afternoon of Friday, Feb 21, before Saginaw County District Judge David Hoffman.
Recently retired Carrollton Township Police Officer James J. Kellett testified that about 2.04pm on Jan 7 he responded to 995 Edison St. in Zilwaukee. The initial call referenced an injury, then escalated to a fight and then gunshots, he said. When he arrived, two Zilwaukee officers were already present, he said.
Kellett went inside and saw one woman lying on her back on the kitchen floor and another standing over her, he said. Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Shellbe A. Sanborn asked Kellett if the woman on the floor had any injuries.
“It appeared to be a gunshot in the abdomen area and there were two additional in the chest area,” Kellett said. “I observed another gunshot wound to her right arm, maybe above the elbow. She was having difficulty breathing. She told me couldn’t breathe, that she was going to die, that she wasn’t going to live. She was in a frantic state. She told me she got shot three times and gave me the person’s name. I asked what it was about. She told me it was over property.”
“Did she give you the name of the person who shot her?” Sanborn asked.
“Yes,” Kellett said. “She said Cody Nelson.”
Kellett added it was difficult for him to understand the woman, identified as Alyssa S. Martin, 20. Kellett was still present when Mobile Medical Response arrived and took Martin to an area hospital. Martin survived the shooting.
Michigan State Police Trooper Clint Korpalski testified he was assigned to investigate the shooting a week or so after it had occurred. He said he learned of a tip that had been received by the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center from a person in Florida. The tipster said his younger brother had been playing the online video game Fortnite and had been chatting through a microphone with another male player.
During game play, the Florida youth heard the other player getting into an argument, Korpalski said.
“He described a struggle taking place and then three loud pops,” Korpalski said. “He didn’t think these pops were loud enough to be gunshots, but then he stated that the male he was playing the game with got back on the game and said he just shot somebody.”
Subsequent investigation linked the other player to Nelson’s address, Korpalski said. Korpalski also obtained footage of the Fortnite interaction.
Attorneys played this footage in court, showing gameplay overlaid with audio of the players’ voices. The audio eventually features what sounds like a disturbance, with a man asking someone if he let someone else into his house, a woman yelling at someone to get out, and a woman shouting for someone to get off her. Later, the audio features what sounds like three pops louder than the game’s audio effects.
A few minutes later, a male voice comes back on over the game footage.
“I just had to shoot a (expletive),” the male says. A second voice expresses doubt.
“Yes, I did,” the first male voice says. “She’s on the floor bleeding out. I gotta go. I’ll be back on later, bro.”
A young man testified he was friends with Nelson and went to his house with his brother, the victim Martin, and another woman on Jan 7. The witness said he went there planning to play Fortnite with Nelson. He and the women were let into the house by Nelson’s sister, he said.
Martin and Nelson began arguing over a jacket that Martin owned but Nelson had in his possession, the witness said. He saw Nelson hit Martin and then the witness intervened and struck Nelson and tried holding him back so he couldn’t hit Martin again, he said. As the witness held Nelson, Martin unzipped the jacket he was wearing and took it from him, the witness said.
Nelson then pulled a pistol and the witness testified they saw him fire one round. The witness ran and called 911, he said.
Questioned by defense attorney Demond L. Tibbs, the witness said Martin had previously lived at Nelson’s residence and that his family had kicked her out and told her not to return. Martin had left a jacket or sweater behind, the witness said.
Michigan State Police Sgt. Gerald Fowler testified he first interviewed Nelson the same day of the shooting and read him his Miranda rights
Nelson said he knew his male friend was coming over and that a few minutes after he arrived, Martin showed up unexpectedly. A fight ensued over a jacket, Fowler said Nelson told him.
Nelson initially said he retrieved a gun from his mother’s room, Fowler said.
“At that time, I asked if once Alyssa was in the kitchen if he walked by her to get to his mother’s room,” Fowler said. “That’s when he changed his story to say the gun was actually in his room.”
“The first statement, he said he knew Alyssa knew there were guns in his mother’s room and she was looking that way when he came out of his bedroom. During the interview, it changed to when he came out of his bedroom, he still said something about (her) looking towards mother’s bedroom, then said he was scared that she could come at him and take the gun and shoot at him.”
Fowler also interviewed Martin in the hospital. Under cross-examination, Tibbs asked Fowler if Martin said she went to the house to rob Nelson. Fowler said Martin said she wouldn’t do such a thing to her own people.
Tibbs asked Fowler if he ever considered asking prosecutors to charge Martin with home invasion. Fowler replied he thought about it.
Tibbs called a minor relative of Nelson’s who was present for the shooting. She said she let Nelson’s male friend in the house but did not expect Martin to show up. The visitors went to Nelson’s room, where a commotion happened shortly thereafter.
The witness said she saw Nelson retrieve a gun and Martin reacted by laughing at him. Martin then lunged at Nelson and he shot her, the witness said.
Questioned by Sanborn, the witness said Martin did not have a weapon on her when she lunged at Nelson.
The day’s testimony ended with Tibbs having one witness left to call. Judge Hoffman adjourned the remainder the hearing, a new date of which is pending.
Nelson, who was 17 when the shooting occurred, is charged with single counts of assault with intent to murder and felony firearm. The former is punishable by up to life imprisonment, while a conviction of the latter comes with a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence.
Nelson remains in custody at the Saginaw County Jail. – MLive.com, Walker, Michigan/Tribune News Service
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