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Prosecutors build case in Duluth murder trial

Noah King

The voice was breathless and panicky.

"Yeah. My brother's just been shot," it said.

The voice was that of Devin Grahek, recorded from the 911 call he placed at 2 p.m. on Valentine's Day 2017 outside of the East Hillside house where his brother, William Grahek, lay dying from gunshot wounds.

Verified as accurate from the witness stand on Tuesday by St. Louis County Sheriff's Lt. Neil Porter, the recording represented the opening scene as county prosecutors began to build their case against Noah Anthony Charles King, charged with first-degree murder for his alleged involvement in William Grahek's death.

King is accused of accompanying two other men during an attempted robbery of drugs and cash from the residence at 510 E. 11th St. that the Grahek brothers shared with two other people. William Grahek, 22, was shot twice, allegedly by co-defendant Deandre Demetrius Davenport.

King is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of intentional second-degree murder and attempted first-degree aggravated robbery.

Lead prosecutor Jessica Fralich and lead defense attorney Steve Bergeson are presenting their cases before 6th Judicial District Judge Mark Munger since King waived his right to a jury trial. After Fralich declined to make an opening statement, Bergeson began to frame his case. "The evidence will not rule out the possibility that this is unintentional," Bergeson said.

Fralich and co-prosecutor Vicky Wanta called both William Grahek's mother and brother to the stand.

William — Will, to his family — had served in the Army Reserve, said his mother, Heidi Errickson-Grahek. He received the papers allowing him to go into the regular Army on the day he was killed, she said.

"He needed a change," Errickson-Grahek said. "He wanted to get out of Duluth."

Responding to Fralich's questions, Devin Grahek described the events of the early afternoon of Feb. 14, 2017. Working on homework in the living room of the home's main floor, he heard an unfamiliar male voice downstairs saying, "Get down on the ground," and his brother's voice saying something he couldn't understand.

After hearing gunshots, he cautiously worked his way into the hallway to see his brother stumbling up the stairs, Devin said.

"And I noticed he was bleeding from his mouth," he said. "He said he was shot in the chest. And he went down on his knees in the living room. He said, 'This really hurts.'"

Devin went out the front door without putting on his shoes and called 911 from his cellphone, he said.

Much of Tuesday's testimony was devoted to accounts from Duluth police officers who responded to the shooting, and to Dr. A. Quinn Strobl, chief medical examiner for the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, who performed the autopsy.

King was one of five suspects arrested in early March 2017 in connection with the crime. Co-defendant Noah Baker, 21, is serving a 30-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to intentional second-degree murder. Tara Baker, 24, received six years of supervised probation for lying to police about her knowledge of the incident.

Davenport, 23, who is facing the same charges as King, is scheduled for a jury trial beginning Dec. 4 in Brainerd. Xavier Alfred Haywood, 28, who is charged with a felony count of aiding an offender, has a trial scheduled for March 19.

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue on Wednesday.

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