Two former neighbors of Dimitrius Brown identified him Tuesday as the man who fatally shot 14-year-old Duval "DJ" DeShields after confronting him about brandishing a BB pistol at younger teens.
Both witnesses — a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman — clearly identified Brown, 20, whom they knew by his street name, "Meat," as the shooter who fired into the back of DeShields' head as he tried to run from the Oct. 12, 2015, confrontation at 10th and Thompson Streets in North Philadelphia.
Both witnesses also described DeShields' apparent fascination with his BB pistol, which he displayed sticking out of his waistband and brandished. Not everyone thought it was a toy.
"Everybody thought it was a real gun, I thought it was a real gun," the boy told the Common Pleas Court jury. The Inquirer and Daily News do not identify juveniles in Juvenile Court proceedings.
Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth is expected to complete her case Wednesday. Ruth has said she will ask the jury of 10 women and two men to find Brown guilty of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Defense attorney Benjamin Cooper told the jury in his opening statement that Brown was not at the scene of the shooting and has an alibi witness. On Tuesday, in questioning the two witnesses, Cooper challenged their motives in implicating Brown, suggesting they had chosen sides in a complicated neighborhood "beef."
The boy also testified that earlier on Oct. 12, 2015, his younger brother came home saying DeShields had drawn the BB pistol and had "flashed a gun at him."
The witness said he told his brother to stay away from DeShields and then walked to 10th and Thompson to talk to DeShields.
"I approached DJ — I wasn't being hostile — and told him to leave my little brother alone, and he started threatening me," the boy testified. "He pulled up his shirt and showed me the gun. I walked away."
About 8:30 p.m., the witness continued, he went back to 10th and Thompson to be with other teens. He said he saw Brown approach DeShields and say something, and watched DeShields begin to pull up his shirt.
The juvenile said Brown grabbed DeShields' arm. DeShields broke free, turned and ran. Brown fired once, dropping him to the street.
The other witness, Brianna Boone, 20, testified that earlier that day she and DeShields broke up a group of teenage girls fighting at 10th and Thompson and that DeShields pulled out the BB pistol and brandished it, bringing the fight to an end.
Boone, however, said the BB pistol — police said it had an orange plastic cap at the end of the barrel — looked like a toy.
By the time she and DeShields were back at the intersection that night, Boone testified, DeShields told her he was reluctant to be there because he had heard the mother of a neighborhood teen was planning to confront him for brandishing the BB pistol.
Boone said she convinced DeShields to stay, saying the worst that could happen was that he would be yelled at.
Boone said DeShields was talking to some other teens when Brown walked up and said: "What makes you think it's cool for you to pull a gun on one of my young bulls?"
Moments later, DeShields was on the sidewalk mortally wounded, and the crowd at 10th and Thompson was fleeing.
"I just stood there, I couldn't move," Boone said. "I was crying, I didn't say anything to anybody."
It was not until the next afternoon, when she went to Hahnemann University Hospital to see DeShields, that she spoke with police detectives, Boone said.
DeShields had just died after being removed from life support.