From the looks of a surveillance video that captured his last moments, Jammar Gammage appeared to think the offer of a hug to Dion Antonio Graham’s brother would be enough to quell an argument with Dion Graham, one that cost him his life.
This was no provoked attack, Assistant State Attorney Takisha Richardson told a Palm Beach County jury Wednesday. It was murder.
“As soon as Mr. Graham’s brother pushed Jammar Gammage away and dropped his towel, it was like they had a sign. This defendant came out of the backseat of the car, came around and fired into Jamar Gammage’s unsuspecting body,” Richardson said.
Richardson’s words to jurors marked the start of Graham’s first-degree murder trial Wednesday, which began after more than two days of jury selection in the case of Gammage’s shooting death on Aug. 22, 2015 outside the Community Market on West Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.
Gammage, 26, was a childhood friend of both Graham’s brother and another man who was in the car Graham was riding in before the shooting. Dion Graham and Gammage were friendly as well, Richardson told jurors.
Richardson, who is prosecuting the case with Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis, also told jurors that the surveillance video showed Gammage and Dion Graham talking and even sharing a cigarette together not long before the shooting.
Witnesses are expected to testify, however, that the friendly atmosphere tensed quickly when the two began arguing over a woman. Gammage tried to ease the situation by offering a hug to Graham’s brother, but the brother pushed Gammage’s hand away.
Defense attorney Evelyn Ziegler, who told Circuit Judge Laura Johnson on Wednesday that she would wait until the start of the defense case to make an opening statement, quickly objected during Richardson’s opening statements when Richardson tried to put an end to the notion that Graham could have shot Gammage in self-defense.
Johnson sustained the objection, but the statements nonetheless offered a preview for jurors of future arguments of self-defense from Ziegler by the end of the trial.
Graham, 31, faces life in prison if convicted as charged. He is also facing a felony charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.