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Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Woman testifies she saw gunshots

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A witness told jurors on Wednesday that she saw gunfire from her apartment window the night Jacksonville Jaguars player Richard Collier was shot and paralyzed but could not identify the shooter.

Virginia Corbie testified for the prosecution in the trial of Tyrone Hartsfield, 33, who is charged with attempted murder. He is accused of shooting Collier on Sept. 2, 2008, as the offensive lineman waited with a recently cut teammate in his car for Corbie's two daughters.

Corbie said she saw a man holding a gun with both hands, shooting at Collier's red Cadillac Escalade.

"That's when I freaked out and realized something bad was happening," said Corbie.

Corbie is the mother of Jemilia Corbie, who was dating Collier, and Natalia Corbie, Jemilia's younger sister. Collier and Kenny Pettway had followed the Corbie sisters to their mother's apartment complex near downtown Jacksonville and were waiting for them to come back out.

Virginia Corbie said it was dark, so she could not identity the shooter other than to say he was black, thin and wearing a white T-shirt.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Wes Whitehead, who was first to respond to the shooting, testified that he found Collier lying across the center console, with his head in the back seat and his body in the front seat.

"He did not appear to be conscious. He wasn't making any noise," Whitehead said.

Most of the testimony dealt with physical evidence. Police experts discussed the six .45-caliber shell casings found in and around Collier's car; Collier's pants and shirt removed at the hospital containing bullet holes and the bloody front seat of his car with three bullet holes.

Carol Hanna, a latent fingerprint expert with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, testified she found no prints matching Hartsfield or Collier on six cards she examined. Another agent found no DNA in Collier's car that implicated Hartsfield.

The state's star witness, Stephan Wilson, on federal probation in an Atlanta bank robbery, is expected to take the stand Thursday. He told police he went with Hartsfield to the shooting scene. He secretly recorded five hours of tape of his conversations with Hartsfield.

Collier, 28, testified Tuesday that he was sitting his car outside the women's home talking with Pettway when a barrage of gunshots began. He says he never saw the shooter and neither did his friend.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda claims Hartsfield shot Collier as revenge for a fight between the two men earlier at a Jacksonville club.

Defense attorney Ann Finnell told jurors that there were several people who had grudges against Collier.