Witnesses identify shooting suspect

Thursday, November 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:20 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two witnesses testified Wednesday at the Boone County Courthouse that they saw 21-year–old Kansas City, Kan., man Taron Crawford, pull out a handgun and shoot MU sophomore Charles Blondis three times at a party last November. Blondis died on the scene.

Sam Hileman and Peter Lassiter pointed at Crawford when asked by the prosecution who shot Blondis.

In his testimony, Hileman said after a fight broke out on Riva Ridge Court Crawford stepped in and punched James Palmer, a friend of Blondis and Hileman.

Lassiter, a law student at MU, said he was awakened that night by the noise of the fighting to find a fight occurring between Palmer and Crawford on the hood of his white Acura.

After the fight ended, Lassiter said, Blondis continued to yell at Crawford, who then pulled a gun out of his pants and shot Blondis in the chest.

“Crawford gunned him down right there,” said prosecutor Dan Knight. “Blondis didn’t even make it to the ambulance.”

Hileman and Lassiter said Blondis never physically threatened Crawford.

Kathleen Green, a criminalist and firearms expert with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said the three shell casings found at the scene were fired from the gun found in the backyard of the apartment Crawford where was staying.

Defense attorney Roderick Smith questioned the difference between the witnesses’ recollection of whether Crawford was wearing a hat that night. Both witnesses agreed that the defendant took his shirt off prior to fighting. Smith also questioned both about details of the duration of the fights and on whether lighting was good enough to determine who the shooter was.

Family and friends of Blondis, as well as the parents and sister of Taron Crawford, listened to testimonies throughout the day. The trial is expected to last another one to two days.

Missourian reporter Jennifer Myers contributed to this report.

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