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March 12, Dominique Knight trial

Dominique Knight, facing the possibility of life in prison if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, sits in court Tuesday, while family members of Harry Canady Jr., the man Knight is accused of killing, look on.

RACINE — The state faces an uphill battle when it comes to proving Dominique Knight’s guilt, but prosecutors pushed onward Tuesday.

Knight is accused of first-degree intentional homicide in the May 7, 2017, shooting death of 20-year-old Harry Canady Jr.

On Tuesday, the first day of a potentially weeklong jury trial, state prosecutors brought up a gamut of witnesses in an attempt to construct a “puzzle” that would show Knight’s guilt. But Knight was defended by court-appointed attorney Russell J.A. Jones, who spent all day casting shadows of doubt on the credibility of the state’s witnesses in order to blur or remove those puzzle pieces.

“They don’t have forensics. They don’t have a lot in this case,” Jones said.

Donte Shannon, who reportedly told police that he drove Knight to the home where Canady was shot, is no longer alive; Shannon was killed in January 2018 by two Racine Police officers while fleeing from a traffic stop and brandishing a weapon. An alleged Knight accomplice, Roger Gardner, is unavailable to testify, Circuit Court Judge Mark F. Nielsen said.

The girlfriend speaks

Nakia Daniel, who had been dating Harry Canady Jr. when he was shot and killed in May 2017, testifies Tuesday in the first-degree homicide trial of Dominique Knight.

A puzzling road map

Prosecuting attorney Lucas Bennewitz laid out a blueprint for the state’s case in his opening argument. He painted a picture of Canady’s girlfriend holding him in his arms as she literally felt his heart stop beating, and he shared a memorable quote of something Knight supposedly said moments before Canady was shot.

“You will have all the pieces of that puzzle,” Bennewitz informed the jury.

Some witnesses’ testimonies seemed to contradict one another, and sometimes even contradict themselves.

When Canady’s girlfriend, Nakia Daniel, took the stand, she said she never actually felt her boyfriend’s heart stop — despite what Bennewitz claimed.

Daniel also said she never saw the shooter.

Two different Canady family members testified about a May 6 confrontation, where three men — Knight, Gardner and Shannon — allegedly threatened the life of Harry’s younger brother over a money-and-drugs dispute. But those family members’ stories didn’t align regarding who said what, or as to who was carrying guns that day. Their stories also have changed over time: Harry’s uncle, Phillip Canady, admitted that he had “left some stuff out” when he initially talked to police in 2017.

Also in his opening statement, Bennewitz made a claim that wasn’t backed up by a witness. Bennewitz had claimed that, minutes before Harry Canady was shot, Knight had said over the phone to his cousin D’Angelo McGlorn, “I’m looking at Harry right now.” But when McGlorn took the stand, he said he couldn’t remember exactly what was said during that conversation.

These inconsistencies seemed to prove a point Jones had made in his opening argument: “When the state gets up, it anticipates what evidence will be … (But) when people get up on that stand, we never know what’s going to be said.”

March 12, Dominique Knight trial

Attorney Russell J.A. Jones, right, sits next to his client Dominique Knight on Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court. Knight is facing a first-degree homicide charge.

Nerves and phone calls

However, there were points that didn’t look good for Knight, who faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

For one, McGlorn testified that Knight had called him on May 7, 2017, telling McGlorn to pick up his son from Daniel’s house. McGlorn picked up Knight’s son, and said that Knight called him again to make sure that no children were inside the house. Minutes later, Canady was dead on the front porch.

David Canady said that his brother seemed nervous for several days leading up to his death, which he attributed to the botched drug deal David Canady admitted to carrying out on behalf of Knight. Harry became more nervous on May 7 after the confrontation at his father’s house the day before, David Canady said.

When an attorney asked David, “Would it be fair to say things were tense between D. Knight and your family?” David replied: “Yes it was.”

March 12, Dominique Knight trial

Racine Police Department Criminalist Todd Hoover shows a gray sweatshirt he removed from an evidence bag in court Tuesday. He said this sweatshirt, with its blood-stained hood, is the one Harry Canady Jr. was wearing when he was shot and killed in May 2017.

Next

Testimony is set to continue Wednesday, March 13, starting with Jonathon Sparks, a man who is facing a first-degree reckless homicide charge for a 2008 incident. Sparks reportedly once shared a jail cell with Knight.

A Racine Police investigator is expected to be the final witness on behalf of the prosecution and will likely testify late Wednesday morning.

A verdict is expected before the end of the week.

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Reporter

Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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