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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The trial of one of two men accused of murdering a key witness in a murder case began Tuesday morning, and the judge is taking steps to ensure the safety of witnesses.
In opening statements, the prosecution said Steven Pettway gunned down Troya Sheckles in broad daylight in Shelby Park in March 2009 because she was set to be a key witness in the murder trial of Lloyd Hammond, who was a friend of Pettway.
The defense said Pettway was a scapegoat because he was the new kid on the block from North Carolina. Attorney Leslie Smith said in court Tuesday, "It was easy to blame a 16-year-old kid for this crime."
Prosecutors began calling their first witnesses Tuesday morning, including a man who said he heard the gunshots and saw the suspect running. "He was wearing, like full clothing, but I believe he was black," the witness said. When asked whether he saw the suspect's face, the witness replied, "No, I couldn't see his face." He was asked why not, and said, "He was holding, like, a bandana over his face. I mean, really close, all the way up to his eyes."
That man also said that while everyone else was running and scattering around Shelby Park when those shots were fired, he ran to the victim, Troya Sheckles, who was lying on the ground, and called 911."
The judge in the case is not allowing the media to photograph the faces or reveal the names of witnesses. He also cautioned jurors not to watch the news or read newspaper accounts of the case.
Pettway was originally set to be tried at the same time as Dejuan Hammond, Lloyd Hammond's brother, but the two proceedings were split up.
A witness told police Pittway admitted he was the shooter, saying Dejuan Hammond promised to take care of him for life if he did it.
When Pettway's trial is over, a date will be selected for Dejuan Hammond's case.