Musician killed for rims on car, cop says at hearing

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Musician Anthony Tolson was killed Christmas Eve for the wheels on his Chevy Trailblazer, according to a statement read in court during a raucous preliminary examination Friday.

Charles Cox, 35, of Inkster, left, and Darnell Young, 18, listen to witnesses during their preliminary examination in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on Friday.

“I seen a truck with some wheels that I could sell for $1,200,” 18-year-old Darnell Young told Detroit police homicide Sgt. Steven Ford in a statement read aloud by the officer during the hearing.

After Young and his partner, Charles Cox, 33, allegedly shot Tolson three times, Young kicked the musician as he lay dying on the pavement of a liquor store parking lot, according to testimony.

Tolson had just left Central Baptist Church, where he played bass in a holiday service, and planned to give gifts to his three children, Amber, 13; Aaron, 12; and William, 7.

Young and Cox, face first-degree murder and carjacking charges, among other crimes. Their exam is scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. Monday

During Friday’s hearing, a television news cameraman filmed Young mouthing something to his cousin, Kierra Strickland, while she testified. The cameraman informed 36th District Judge Esther Lynise Bryant-Weekes, who ordered the defendants to be escorted out of the courtroom.

As they left, one of the accused, later identified as Young, could be heard cursing in the hallway.

Seconds later, at least 11 deputies rushed through the courtroom and into the corridor. Afterward, the judge cleared the room of everyone but the media, Tolson’s mother and her friend, and Young’s mother and grandmother.

Anthony Tolson

Bryant-Weekes then admonished Young.

“While the witness was testifying, members of the media observed while filming that Mr. Young was talking, and appeared to be making statements to the witness,” she said. “The court had an opportunity to view the tape that the media made, and it disturbs me greatly.

“I was not able to make out the words that Mr. Young was saying; however, it appeared that they were not pleasant words, and his facial expressions were angry, and appeared to me be be very menacing.”

Bryant-Weekes first ordered Young to be removed from the courtroom for the remainder of the hearing. After a plea from Young’s attorney, Nijad Mehanna, the judge changed her mind and allowed him to stay, but said he would have to face away from the witness when the hearing resumes Monday.

In earlier testimony Friday, Tolson’s friend, barber shop owner Herman Searcy, said the victim stopped by his house after the church concert, and that they planned to meet their children later that night. They first drove to the Fairmont Liquor Store on Gratiot at about 9:30 p.m.

“I asked him, ‘what you want? You want a beer? It’s Christmas; it’s on me,’” Searcy testified. “He said ‘I don’t want nothing.’ I was like, ‘lock the door.’ ”

Seconds after he walked into the store, Searcy said a man near the front door saw two men in the lot pull out guns, and mistakenly warned they were about to rob the store.

“We started running to the back of the store,” Searcy said. “Then, two shots go off: Bop! Bop! I just prayed to God, ‘I hope that ain’t my guy.’

“A lady ran in: ‘They done killed this boy, pulled him out of his truck. He’s out there dead.’ ”

Searcy said he dashed outside. “My friend was laying on the ground dead. Face down. He was laying on his glasses. There was a nurse outside; she said, ‘don’t move him, he’s a gunshot victim.’ ”

Ford took the witness stand after Searcy and relayed Young’s versions of events that he gave during a Jan. 15 interview with police.

“I told him to get out the car,” Young said. “He grabbed the gun; when I yanked back, I shot him. I pulled him out the car after I shot him, then I hopped in the car and pulled off.”

As the statement was read, Tolson’s mother, seated in the third row of the courtroom, quietly sobbed.

During Strickland’s testimony, the 19-year-old said her cousin, Young, phoned her days after the killing and told her “I’m in trouble.”

Slumped in the witness stand, her hand covering her face, Strickland spoke in a monotone, sometimes sobbing as she recounted her conversation with Young.

“He said he did something really bad. He hurt somebody ... he shot him … to rob him. He shot him in the chest. The other guy (Cox) shot him twice.”

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor William Lawrence asked, “What did Darnell say he did when Mr. Tolson was laying on the ground after he was shot?”

In a low voice, Strickland replied: “He kicked him.”

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