Defense Says GI Murder was Self-Defense
Self–defense or a calculated crime? That's what a jury has been asked to decide, in a Grand Island murder trial now underway a full two-years after the crime.
Opening arguments paint very different pictures of Arkanjelo Kot.
Hall County Attorney Mark Young showed the jury convenience store video of Kot, taken the night of July 14, 2010.
Kot He appears to "stroll" up to a parked van and fire a single shot, Young explained.
Young said it was a deliberate choice, emphasizing the point. He said Kot chose to walk up to the van, chose to raise his gun, chose to pull the trigger, and chose to shoot Walid Omar Aden "out of deliberate, premeditated anger and malice," Young said.
Defense attorneys shared Kot's traumatic life story of being orphaned during civil war in Sudan.
Born in 1977, Kot heard airplanes flying over his village in 1983, at age 6. Until that time, Kot lived in a thatched-roof hut, raising cattle and foraging for food in an agrarian village.
That was the picture painted by defense attorney Clarence Mock. Mock outlined Kot's life in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya where Kot "lived like a blind man" because of constant fear.
In July 2001 Kot at three others came to the United States, settling in Phoenix. Kot didn't know English, but got a job as a baggage handler and began schooling.
From there, he moved to Grand Island in search of better pay and better opportunities, according to Mock.
But it was in Grand Island where Mock said "something very bad happened."
In 2009, Kot was a witness to a murder that killed his cousin.
He was inside his apartment on Yund Street in east Grand Island, when Abdi Mohammed and Mohammed Abdulkadir "came looking for trouble" according to Mock.
The two men have since been convicted in that deadly shooting.
The defense argues Kot began to live in fear after the "Yund Street Incident" as Judge James Livingston put it.
Mock said his client thought he was targeted by acquaintances of Mohammed and Abdulkadir, so he bought a gun, something that was done legally.
When Kot visited the Pump & Pantry store to cash in lottery tickets, a van with three men pulled up. Mock said the men used racial and sexual slurs against Kot.
Mock said the men also said to Kot, "You're the snitch" who put Mohammed and Abdulkadir in jail.
"You snitched at my homie," were the words Mock used to illustrate the point to the jurors.
And it was that mindset, Mock explained, that caused Kot to fire the fatal shot out of fear for his own life. Mock claims Walid Omar Aden, the murder victim, made a sudden movement, possibly for a gun.
Aden was shot as he sat in the passenger's seat of the van. The driver then drove to the men's apartment, before going to the hospital.
The first witness was Dr. Cory Ohlson, an emergency room physician. He explained that Aden went into shock, and was suffering "massive internal bleeding", although he was not showing a great deal of external blood loss.
The doctor said Aden suffered one gun shot wound that went in his hip, and came out of his abdomen.
The case is expected to last up to ten days.