Attorney unable to locate witness who could exonerate his Newark man accused of murder
The only woman standing between Newark gang member Shaheed Brown and life sentence has not been allowed to testify, pretty much dismantling Brown’s third-party guilt defense and possibly sealing his fate.
Defense attorney Edward Heyburn said he was given a deadline of Thursday to track down the witness, Kayemma Strong. He says he tried “day and night” to get in touch with her despite only being provided her contact information late Wednesday.
He needed to serve her with a subpoena and have her in by 11 a.m. the next morning.
As a result, testimony in Brown’s murder trial was cancelled. Jurors were sent home and the trial is set to resume Monday. Judge Andrew Smithson has ruled that even if Heyburn can locate Strong between now and then, he is not allowed to call her to the witness stand.
Heyburn had asked the court to give him until Monday to track down Strong.
“The judge has been very courteous with the court’s time when it came to the prosecutor’s witnesses, but he gave me a very limited opportunity to locate this witness,” said Heyburn, referring to La Guira security guard Kevin Cole showing up an hour late to court for testimony Wednesday. “My client is devastated because he believes that Kayemma Strong is the one witness who can exonerate him. He is upset that the court would not give us additional time to locate her.”
Strong’s testimony could have been the deciding factor between Brown getting a life sentence or being acquitted of killing Enrico Smalley Jr. outside of La Guira Bar in July 2014.
Strong was captured on surveillance footage walking outside the bar right as the shooting occurred. She appeared to be staring straight at the area where Smalley was shot, giving her a vantage point no other witness had.
But so far, Strong, who is an easy find on social media, has remained a wild card.
State Police Detective Joseph Itri, the lead detective in Smalley’s murder, testified this week he was unable to secure an interview with Strong because she kept blowing him off. He said he had scheduled numerous appointments to meet with her and once even drove back to his office around midnight when she said she was willing to meet.
In the end, Strong never showed up and stopped returning Itri’s phone calls.