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Woman shot in Mandan testifies during first day of attempted murder trial

Woman shot in Mandan testifies during first day of attempted murder trial

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Dequan Smith (copy)

Dequan Smith 

A woman shot about a year ago in Mandan testified Wednesday that her left leg went numb and she felt like she’d been punched in the back before she saw blood and realized she’d been struck by one of the bullets fired by a man she and her sister had confronted about a drug deal gone bad.

Her testimony came during the first day of what is scheduled as a three-day trial for 17-year-old Dequan Smith. He is charged in adult court with attempted murder and four other felonies stemming from the alleged Dec. 30, 2018, incident. He has pleaded not guilty.

Assistant Burleigh County State’s Attorney Gabrielle Goter and defense attorney Justin Balzer selected jurors Wednesday morning. The woman, who has invoked Marsy's Law crime victim rights, testified in the afternoon.

The woman and her sister confronted Smith outside a convenience store a week after the man took more than $600 intended as payment for marijuana, gave the sister a bag of corn flakes wrapped in layers of plastic, and ran away, the woman said.

During the chance meeting on Dec. 30, the woman’s sister, who had arranged the pot deal through Smith’s girlfriend, got out of the van to confront Smith. The woman got out of the van too, but got back in after noticing Smith was “unemotional.”

“It was scary,” she said. “I didn’t know what he was going to do.”

The woman picked up her sister a short distance away. They drove a few blocks and confronted Smith again. She heard five or six shots on the driver’s side of the vehicle after they turned a corner.

She testified that just before the shots were fired, Smith communicated nonverbally with another man across the street. Balzer earlier played a portion of police audio -- difficult to understand at times -- during which a woman can be heard saying she was shot. Another voice states that the women were talking to one man and another man came out of nowhere and started shooting.

Officer Mary Hamilton, one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene, testified that the first call received by officers stated that females in a van were yelling obscenities, and a second call informed them that two men were shooting guns. The wounded woman's sister and mother, who also was in the vehicle, were "frantic" after the shooting. They said at one point that two men had shot at them, and later showed her a digital photograph of Smith and identified him as the shooter, Hamilton said. 

The bullet was removed from the woman’s back during the second of two surgeries. She’s recovered well physically, “but psychologically I don’t think I would ever be the same,” she said.

Smith in addition to attempted murder is charged with reckless endangerment, two counts of aggravated assault and felony distribution of an imitation controlled substance. He was 16 at the time of the incident and originally charged as a juvenile.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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