Starkly different stories of Mobile shooting emerge in court

Judge sends case against teacher to grand jury, but defense contends alleged victim initiated violence
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 3:07 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The prosecution and defense on Wednesday offered starkly different accounts of an altercation at a bar that escalated to a shooting involving a schoolteacher.

Mobile County District Judge Zackery Moore determined prosecutes had met their burden of showing probable cause and sent the case against Kenisha Jacelle Gilmore to a grand jury to sort out.

Gilmore, 26, of Prichard, stands charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle and shooting into an unoccupied vehicle. Prosecutors allege that she fired shots as she was pursuing them. The Mobile County Public School System, where the defendant worked as a teacher at Scarborough Middle School, placed her on leave immediately following her arrest.

“Certainly presents a very dangerous scenario for our community,” Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood told FOX10 News. “These are public streets, and the chase could have been high rates of speed. You know, anyone could have been on the road at that time and, certainly, shooting in a residential area like that presents a grave danger to our community.”

Charlie Welch, a Mobile police detective, testified that Gilmore fired several shots into a car of people on Old Shell Road and also hit a neighbor’s parked vehicle. But defense attorney Marcus Foxx argued that the evidence shows one of the alleged victims initiated the confrontation by ramming his client on Springhill Avenue after they left Sidewayz Sports Bar and Grill after midnight on Aug. 6.

Foxx suggested during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing that the woman later made a video of herself soliciting a “switch gun” – a reference to a machine gun conversion device.

Chantel Grandison, a friend of Gilmore’s who was with her at the bar, testified that she saw the ramming and returned to Sidewayz to try to report it to a uniformed police officer but that he told her he did not have time to take the complaint. Grandison said she thought she saw one of the occupants in the other car with a gun.

“They were yelling out of their window … making threats,” she said.

Grandison testified that the woman side-swiped her friend.

“It looked like she tried to run her off the road,” she said.

Welch testified that he had no knowledge of the purported attempt to report the side-swiping.

“That would be new information to me,” he said.

During cross-examination by Foxx, Welch acknowledged that he has not personally sought surveillance footage from the bar and does not know whether it exists. He acknowledged that he also has not tried to find security footage from other nearby businesses. He testified that he has focused the investigation on Old Shell Road, where the shooting occurred.

The defense maintains that Gilmore followed the other car after the ramming to try to get the license plate number and fired the shots in self-defense on Old Shell Road. Welch testified that police found four shell casings on the street from a 9mm gun.

“We would contend that only shots were fired once she was being attacked with a vehicle at that house,” Foxx told FOX10 News.

But prosecutors allege that Gilmore also fired shots in the area of Sage Avenue before turning on to Old Shell Road. But Welch acknowledged under cross-examination that he is not aware of anyone in that area calling 911 to report a shooting, and he testified that police could not find shell casings in the area.

The detective testified that the victim told him that she pulled into the driveway of her friend’s house on Old Shell Road and that she accidentally backed into the defendant’s car, which was blocking her in.

Foxx showed Welch a photograph of his client’s car.

“Does that appear to be an impact that was an accident?” he asked.

Foxx argued in court the police relied on the word of an alleged victim who is unreliable. He acknowledged that it is unusual for the defense to call witnesses at preliminary hearings.

“I think the reason that we were willing to bring a witness forward at this point was because it was clear to us that the detective’s statements and information were incomplete,” he told FOX10 News.

Blackwood said the conflicting testimony is not a concern.

“Oftentimes, we see that opposing parties have different versions of the story,” he said. “That’s why we have the judicial process. … We see this in cases all of the time. That’s why investigations always continue up until the time of trial. So if the defense presented new information today, that’s something that the detectives have an opportunity to follow up on.”