LAWRENCEVILLE - A former Gwinnett police detective testified Thursday that three men heard a loud "pop" and saw Sabon Allen Julius run away from a murder scene at a Snellville McDonald's in September 2006.
But none of the men actually saw Julius with a weapon, though they all fled the scene with the suspect in the same vehicle, former Gwinnett police Detective Brian Ray testified.
Day three of testimony in Julius' murder trial continued Thursday in Gwinnett Superior Court. The Snellville teen is charged with killing Adler Jerry Benoit, 20, of Jonesboro, during a confrontation at a McDonald's restaurant at Ga. Highway 124 and Centerville-Rosebud Road.
Julius and his alleged victim hung out together on Sept. 7, 2006, at a Snellville pool party, Ray testified. They left the party with several men in as many as three vehicles and went to a Texaco station, then next door to McDonald's, where Benoit bought food moments before he was killed in the driver's seat of his Ford Taurus, Ray said.
Benoit was shot once through his left hand and the back of his head.
Julius, who is also known as "Buddha," was in a friend's vehicle parked behind Benoit, Ray said. Witnesses told the detective Julius then walked up to the rear, driver's-side window of Benoit's vehicle and could have fired a shot. The witnesses were looking away at the time, he said.
According to witnesses, Julius ran back to the vehicle and said, "Pull off, pull off, get out of here ... y'all didn't see nothing," Ray said. The driver, identified as Andrew Beckford, then dropped the suspect off at a Snellville subdivision, Ray said.
Fingerprints lifted from the victim's car matched nobody involved in the case, including the victim, Ray said. Police discovered a .380 caliber shell casing in Benoit's vehicle but no gun to match.
Julius' attorney, Mike McDaniels, argued that no evidence had been presented that linked his client to the murder scene.
"No one has put a gun in his hand," McDaniels said. "It's impossible to commit a shooting without a gun."
McDaniels is attempting to shift blame to a man named Chris Brooks, who witnesses said was in Benoit's backseat when he was shot. Police have never located Brooks for questioning.
Kevin Cooper, a cook at a nearby Huddle House, said two armed men fled Benoit's car after the shooting. One man threatened to kill him, he said.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Vandever attacked Cooper's testimony. In a police statement, Cooper never mentioned the front-seat passenger had a gun or that anyone threatened his life, Vandever said.
The victim's mother, Esther Benoit, sat near jurors in the courtroom's first row. At times she bent over emotionally as witnesses gave graphic testimony describing the murder scene.
Julius was arrested on an unrelated charge a day after the murder. He has remained in the Gwinnett County Jail since without bond.
Julius faces charges of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Closing arguments in the murder trial are expected at 9 a.m. today.