Wounded football player testifies during trial

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 06:55 PM

Thomas Woodson recalled Wednesday how he pounded on the door of the Outback Steakhouse Restaurant. "Somebody's shooting! Somebody's shooting!" he screamed.

Woodson testified Wednesday morning at the Durham County Courthouse in the trial of Gabriel James Gamez, 24, of San Antonio, Texas, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Darrell Turner, 18, He’s charged with five counts of attempted murder for wounding Woodson and  for shooting at him and his teammates on June 23, 2011.

The young men were on a seven-on-seven football team from the Pittsburgh area, and the team had stopped in Durham for the night on a trip to Florida.

The seven teammates had walked from their hotel across Mt. Moriah Road to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. When they finished eating, they began to walk back to their hotel when the encountered Gamez walking in the opposite direction.

According to the testimony of several players, they had walked past Gamez when they heard him yelling. A couple teammates said he was yelling about who hit him with something, and a couple teammates recalled they heard him asking, "What are you looking at?"

Woodson testified that he was not paying much attention to what was going on around him because he was talking and texting with his girlfriend back home on his cell phone.

He didn't hear anyone arguing, he said, but suddenly he heard someone in his group yell, "Gun!"

He and his friends ran across the road towards their hotel, and he ended up at the side door to the Outback Steakhouse, he said.

"I'm pounding on the door. 'Somebody's shooting! Somebody's shooting,'" he testified.

On the other side of the door, a woman, maybe a waitress, looked at him wide-eyed but appeared to be holding the door shut, Woodson said.

Woodson said he looked at his leg and saw he was bleeding, then fell to the ground in a patio area.

Assistant District Attorney Josephine Kerr asked him if the wound was painful.

"Burning, like pouring boiling water on your leg," he said. "I never felt this kind of pain in my life."

His friends had scattered, and he was alone when a stranger came up and started elevating and wrapping his leg, he said.

Woodson told the jurors he had two wounds -- on the back of his calf and other just below his knee on the front. He said he thought the bullet entered the back of his leg and came out the front as he was running.

Meanwhile, he looked back towards the AT&T store where the encounter occurred and could see someone on the ground. Friends ran up to him, and he screamed at them to check on Turner, he testified.

Woodson told the jurors he's a senior at Gateway High School in Pennsylvania and plans to attend the University of Akron on a football scholarship. He plays quarterback but no longer plays safety because of his wound, he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Woodson's teammate, Isaiah Faulk, returned to the stand to continue being cross examined by defense attorney Rebecca Wiggins.

Wiggins reminded him that on Tuesday he testified that he didn't remember telling a Durham Police investigator he thought Turner was going to fight and that Turner said he was going to fight the man.

Wiggins played an audiotape of a Durham officer calling Faulk, who said he took the call six months after the incident while he was riding home from football practice in Pennsylvania with his father.

In the call, Faulk told the officer that the shooter just freaked out and said something about throwing peanuts at him.

"I walked up and said, 'What are you talking about?' because I was like confused," Faulk said on the tape recording.

Turner and the man exchanged words, he said on the tape.

"Darrell freaked out and said, "Yeah, I guess we'll fight,'" Faulk said on the tape recording.

Before the trial started, Wiggins told the judge that she was going to try to show that Gamez acted in self defense. She has asked some players about their size and weight compared to the shooter.

Under redirect by Kerr, Faulk said he never heard Turner say that he was going to fight, despite what he told the police investigator on the phone.

"It was just a thought," he said. "I figured that was going to happen because he was talking to Darrell."

Another teammate, Jaylen Coleman, also took the stand Wednesday. He repeated much of what his teammates said on Tuesday, saying they had already walked past the man when he began yelling.

After the football players finished testifying, a crime scene specialist took the stand, showing jurors photographs and videotapes of the crime scene area, including athletic sandals scattered on the sidewalk and parking lot, a blood trail leading across the parking lot toward the Outback Steakhouse, peanut shells, and three 40-caliber shell casings on the sidewalk.

She also showed photographs of a small holster found in a backpack in the trunk of a Toyota parked in front of Outback Steakhouse. The holster, similar to the type a police officer would slip on his belt, had two holders on it. One held a pair of handcuffs, and the other a fully loaded magazine.

The trial is scheduled to continue this morning at the Durham County Courthouse. The defense has not yet begun to present its case.