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Trial in fatal Pasco shoot-out wraps up

NEW PORT RICHEY — Calvin Washington, in a recorded interview with detectives in 2008, insisted he was just the getaway driver.

He said he never went inside the Shady Hills home where 21-year-old Corey Evans was shot in the head on Oct. 16, 2008.

"I wasn't in the house, nowhere near the house," Washington said. "In the truck the whole time."

But Washington's denial may still be enough to convict him of Evans' murder because prosecutors say the death happened during the commission of another felony: burglary. They say Washington and two other men went to the house on Oxenham Avenue in the middle of the night and got in through a bathroom window intending to rob the place of drugs and money.

A shootout ensued, and Evans, who was just staying the night to play video games, died. His cousin, Kenneth Evans, lived at the house and, authorities say, dealt drugs there. He was also shot and received minor injuries.

Another of the alleged assailants, Taequan Griffin, was shot in the back and left paralyzed. Ricky Washington, who is Calvin's cousin, is the third man charged.

Jurors have been hearing the case all week and will return today to deliberate. Calvin Washington, 21, of Brooksville is charged with first-degree felony murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors have not definitively put the murder weapon in Washington's hands. According to testimony, all three intruders had guns, as did Kenneth Evans and another roommate. There were lots of gunshots and lots of shell casings found at the scene.

One witness, a friend of Washington's, said she asked him if he had shot the victim. His answer: "I'm not going to say it over the phone, but you figure it out."

Griffin testified that all three men went into the house, but he remembered little after that because he was in and out of consciousness after being shot in the back.

Under the law, the conflicting stories don't matter.

"We don't have to prove the gun was in his hand," Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis told jurors in his closing statement Wednesday evening. "We don't have to prove that he was in the house. What we have to prove is that this defendant was involved in a heinous and serious felony, and that's burglary."

Washington's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Gary Welch, told jurors the state's case was all circumstantial — that Washington thought they were going to do a drug deal, not commit burglary. He asked jurors to consider the lack of physical evidence against Washington.

Welch put a forensic technician on the stand who took photos of footprints near the couch where Evans died. The photos, Welch said, matched the impression of Griffin's shoes.

"What is important about that footprint is it's not Calvin Washington's," Welch said.

Additionally, he said, DNA analysts matched samples taken from inside the house with Griffin. None of Washington's DNA was found in the home.

And Griffin's blood was all over the gun used to kill Evans.

• • •

Corey Evans' family members have watched the trial all week. They say he was not involved in the drug peddling his cousin engaged in and just got caught in the crossfire.

Emotions boiled over on Monday when they caught sight of some graphic crime scene photos. As they left the courtroom crying, Circuit Judge Michael Andrews said they spoke to Washington's family on the other side of the room while the jury was present.

Andrews brought the Evans family back in to warn them against behavior that could cause a mistrial. Evans' father, Terry, shot back, "When you're done with this circus, you call me and tell me how it ended."

"Lose your son and tell me how you feel, sir," he added as he walked out.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Trial in fatal Pasco shoot-out wraps up 09/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 8:55pm]
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