Counsel Argue Over Gestures, Timing in Northshire Drive Murder Retrial 

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Jurors in the trial of Draquan Smith were on the edge of their seats, straining to get a view of the courtroom’s television as the prosecutor played the critical doorbell camera footage during closing arguments Thursday afternoon. 

Smith, 22, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and firearm use in a felony violent crime for the murder of 20-year-old Joshua Camara on March 27, 2022. His retrial before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Gregory Sampson began two years to the date of the shooting Wednesday.

Doorbell and other surveillance footage tracked the movements of two groups of men. The first group of two were the prosecution’s witnesses, who both pleaded guilty to assaulting Camara. Their assault, like the fatal shooting in an alley on the 2600 block of Northshire Drive, was not captured on camera. 

The second group of three individuals were dressed in all black. Their leader, who the prosecutor argued was Smith, was wearing a ski mask and a baseball cap. Video showed that suspect stop the witnesses as they were about to speed away from the scene of the assault. They testified Smith asked where Camara was, which they told him. The two other men have never been identified.

The witnesses gave their testimony in a bid to get more lenient sentences, but the prosecutor said they were reliable because the camera footage corroborated their statements. Further, he admitted there was no evidence Smith shot a gun or even had a gun. Rather he contended Smith was the mastermind of the murder based on that exchange at the car and two gestures Smith made on camera – one before the shooting and one after, which he claimed was Smith directing his two associates to commit the murder and then hurry up as they left the scene. 

Defense attorney Sheridan T. Yeary challenged that theory, stating all three suspects in black are in view of a camera walking down a nearby street as “the first barrage” of four to five shots rang out before a brief pause and a final shot. 

“You can’t work around the shots,” he said. Per the crime lab technician’s measurements, he said the suspects were 40 yards away from where Camara’s body was found when those shots rang out.

Yeary’s co-counsel Latoya Francis-Williams attempted tocast doubt on the witness testimony. She said the two men were friends, who had time from March 27, 2022, until June of that year, when they were questioned by a Baltimore Police Department detective, to decide what to say. 

She told the jury, “They tried to put a story together.” She said the witnesses “had an axe to grind” with Camara because he owed them money. Though the witnesses claimed Camara also owed Smith, there was no material evidence.

Francis-Williams went on to say the lead detective implied the same gun that let off the infamous “first barrage” was the same gun that fired the final shot. The detective testified the second-long pause between firings was due to “the gun jamm[ing].” 

Deliberations in Smith’s retrial began Friday. His last trial ended in Dec. 20, 2023, with a hung jury. 

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