NEW PORT RICHEY — Edward “Lee” Tudor and Dyketta Cox always studied together while attending nursing school. Then on Jan. 23, 2018, Tudor asked Cox if they could study somewhere new: His house.
She arrived at about 9:30 a.m. The two studied for several hours, then Tudor stepped out of the room. She heard a “bloodcurdling” scream.
“Dyketta, call 911!” she heard Tudor yell. Then she heard gunshots.
Cox was a key witness to the murder of Tudor, who authorities say was shot and killed by his next-door neighbor Qiu “Joe” Ke.
“I could see him,” Cox said, “and he could see me.”
She told jurors that she heard her friend’s screams and the gunshots, saw Qiu, then found Tudor laying in his front yard, mortally wounded. Cox was one of several witnesses who Tuesday testified in the first-degree murder trial of Qiu, 62.
The victim’s mother, Mary Tudor, sat in the courtroom gallery, flanked by loved ones. Some of them clutched onto small packets of tissues. They sat for hours as the state presented its case, showing the jury pictures of the crime scene, surveillance video of the shooting and shell casings found in Tudor’s yard at 3519 Richboro Drive.
Qiu wore black and small glasses as he sat next to his defense attorneys. They asked few questions of the state’s witnesses during cross-examination.
The defense has also chosen to wait to give its opening statement until after the state wraps up its case. It is not known what defense they will pursue. Qiu surrendered at the crime scene and has repeatedly confessed to the crime. In a recent jailhouse interview, Qiu told a Tampa Bay Times reporter that he wants to pursue a heat of passion defense. He said his public defender wants to use mental health as a defense.
Cox sat at the witness stand in a pink blouse and black cardigan with her hair pulled back. She paused before answering the prosecutor's questions, to collect her emotions. She said she called 911 after she heard her friend scream.
The prosecutor inserted a CD of the 911 call into a player. Cox's voice came over the speakers.
“Oh, my God. He just shot again,” she told the operator. “Please send somebody.”
“Somebody's been shot?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
Then she saw a stranger in the house.
“Just answer yes or no. Is he in the house?” the operator said.
"Yes ... I'm so scared,” Cox said. “Please don't let my friend die.”
While she was on the phone with 911, she told the jury that she and the shooter looked at each other. She identified Qiu as the man she saw that day.
When she finally went outside, she saw Tudor on the ground. Deputies arrived. She asked one of them if her friend was okay, she said. The deputy shook his head no.
A Pasco County Sheriff's Office forensic investigator later described the layout of Tudor's house to the jury. She told them how she took photos of the body and blood inside the home. She then told them how she entered Qiu's home after he surrendered to deputies.
The investigator walked past a gun and black sandals, then stepped inside Qiu’s bedroom. A screen stared back at her. On it, she saw deputies walking around outside, and the forensics unit van.
Each panel live-streamed a different surveillance camera angle, capturing the chaos outside. Deputies said Qiu’s surveillance system had captured him executing his neighbor.
Qiu faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Contact Paige Fry at email@example.com. Follow @paigexfry.