Suspect testifies in home invasion trial, despite attorney's advice
Posted March 26
Raleigh, N.C. — One of two brothers accused in a string of Raleigh burglaries and violent home invasions told jurors Wednesday that he was never inside the homes and pointed the finger at a mystery man he knew only by a nickname.
Jahaad Marshall, on trial for 23 charges including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree sex offense and attempted first-degree rape, testified against the advice of his attorney. He admitted to driving the getaway car that authorities say he crashed during a high-speed pursuit in the early hours of Jan. 7, 2013.
But the 27-year-old denied any involvement in what happened shortly before the chase, when a man was shot in the back and left paralyzed from the waist down and his wife was sexually assaulted.
"I wish I could take that back, and me, myself, I apologize for the things I didn't do but what my brother did," Marshall said. "I wish I could take it back."
He said his 17-year-old brother, Shabar Marshall, and a man he knew only as "B.J.," entered the home in Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood sometime around 3 a.m. and held the couple at gunpoint while they ransacked the residence.
Marshall never went inside, he said, but stayed in the car while his brother and "B.J." went looking for houses to go into.
"I heard the gunshot," Marshall said. "I was ready to leave then. I really was. I was ready to leave. If it wasn't for my brother, I would have left."
The 90-mph chase that followed was a blur, he said, but he knew he didn't want him or his brother to get in trouble.
When he crashed the car near South Saunders Street and Ileagnes Road, Marshall said, "B.J." took off in one direction while he and his brother headed in another.
The brothers then parted, he said, with Shabar Marshall throwing him the male victim's wallet, and telling his older brother that that he loved him.
Several days later, police had charged him in the Oakwood case, as well as two burglaries and a similar home invasion in the two weeks prior, in which a married couple was left handcuffed to their bed.
Marshall denied any involvement in the other three cases, pointing the finger at "B.J." for at least one of them.
Marshall testified that he was "shocked" when he learned he was facing so many charges – including first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, robbery with a dangerous weapon – from one event.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger, however, has said that the evidence links the Marshall brothers to all four cases.
For example, investigators found a printer stolen from one of the burglaries in the hotel room where Marshall stayed. But Marshall testified that he bought the printer from someone – although he couldn't remember from whom.
An iPod in the back of Marshall's car belonged to the victim in one of the first burglaries. Marshall, however, couldn't say with certainty why investigators found it in the back of his 1988 Cadillac sedan.
Zellinger, on cross-examination, asked if, perhaps, it was because "B.J." didn't exist, and if he did, why he never told police about him.
"Did you ever decide to let the police know you were just accidentally involved in this crime?" Zellinger asked.
"No," Marshall replied.
Marshall's testimony appeared to come as a surprise to the defense, which indicated earlier Wednesday that it did not plan to call any witnesses.
But when Superior Court Judge Henry Hight gave Marshall a chance to consult with his attorneys, he changed his mind.
That prompted attorney Deonte Thomas to ask the judge to release him and attorney Michelle Ledford from the case because they risked losing their law licenses if they asked Marshall, while under oath, questions about the crimes.
"I can't give a direct examination of Mr. Marshall that I don't believe would put myself in a position to risk my license," Thomas said. "I don't see the questions I could ask that would help Mr. Marshall in defending this case – the way he intends to go with it – that I know would be false to the court. I just don't see how I could even go forward with the first question."
Hight refused the request, however.
Zellinger rested his case earlier Wednesday after playing an emotional 5-minute 911 call from the female victim in the Oakwood case shortly after she was attacked.
"We woke up, and there were these men in our bedroom, and they wanted money, and we gave them everything we had, and we didn't have enough," the woman, tearful at times, said in the frantic call made from a neighbor's house at 3:17 a.m..
"Then one of them took me out of the bedroom and made me take my clothes off, and he started to sexual assault me, and then he took me upstairs to the other gentleman," she continued.
Her husband, she said, then started hitting the men, which allowed her to escape.
"They were both attacking my husband, and I ran out of the house screaming, and then I heard them shoot him," she cried.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning.
Shabar Marshall, meanwhile, pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges in the Oakwood case as well as the other home invasion. He will be sentenced after his trial on six felony charges in the two burglary cases.