Murder trial begins for January 2020 deadly shooting in downtown Seattle

The trial for one of the people allegedly involved in a deadly shootout in downtown Seattle in January 2020 began on Thursday. Seven innocent bystanders were hit in the crossfire at the intersection of 3rd Ave. and Pine St., including a child who was severely injured. One woman was killed.

Jury heard opening statements against one of the suspected shooters, Marquise Tolbert, on Thursday.  

Judah, the 9-year-old boy who was shot in the leg, was mentioned several times in the opening statements. Surveillance video captured the moment he and other victims were hit by bullets. King County prosecutors said at least 24 rounds of gunfire can be heard in the video—all happening within a matter of seconds on the busy downtown sidewalk.

In one of the surveillance videos shown in court, a bus driver is heard on the video saying, "There’s been a shooting on 3rd and Pine, looks like multiple people injured. People on the ground on 3rd and Pine right next to McDonalds."

Tolbert is one of the suspected gunmen, charged with first-degree murder and six counts of assault.  

"The state is confident that you will find Mr. Tolbert guilty," said prosecutor Brandy Gevers.

During opening statements, Gevers showed a surveillance picture of Tolbert buying an extended magazine in cash for a handgun. She claimed Tolbert and a second suspect, William Toliver, were looking to target a rival gang member who frequents the McDonald's on that downtown corner. That targeted person was also shot in the leg in the crossfire. Of all the shots fired, the prosecution argued Tolbert shot nearly half of them.

"All 10 of those fired cartridge casings were fired from the same gun. Remember, a .380 will only typically hold six rounds. That ETS magazine that Mr. Tolbert bought four hours earlier, it held 12. Those 10 rounds were fired by Mr. Tolbert that day," said Gevers.

His defense attorneys said the surveillance video shows Tolbert was acting in self-defense.

"Marquise Tolbert was not the first to shoot, he wasn’t the second to shoot. And when he did shoot every time he shot he only did so because he was being shot at," said defense attorney Emily Gause.

The defense argued the conflict between the rival gang members only escalated because someone else was the instigator, not their client.

"Evidence shows that it was Jamel Jackson who started an argument with Marquise and William. His words and his actions were confrontational, provoking and threatening. And when he pulled out his gun it became life-threatening," said Gause.

Testimony will continue at King County Superior Court. Prosecution said some of the victims hit by the gunfire are expected to take the witness stand and recall that terrifying day, including the child’s father.