'I Fired the Gun' in Self-Defense, Suspect Says
"I fired the gun." Those were the words spoken Friday by a Grand Island murder suspect. However he claims the shooting was in self-defense.
The judge issued a stern rebuke to lawyers and witnesses, saying he will not allow this to be characterized as Sudanese versus Somalis.
Judge James Livingston told jurors to look only at the unique circumstances of this case.
Arkanjelo Kot took the stand, where defense attorneys asked about his childhood in a nation at war.
At age six he fled his village in South Sudan, spending 18 years in refugee camps.
He first settled in Phoenix, working as an airline baggage handler.
Meat packing brought him to Grand Island, where his cousin was murdered and he was shot in the foot back in 2009.
In the months that followed, Kot said he was threatened by associates of the men who shot him.
Those men are known as "Big Mo" and "Blackie", or Mohammed Abdulkadir and Abdi Mohammed, respectively.
They were apparent gang members but the judge did told the jury to disregard that.
Judge James Livingston said he would not allow terms like "homie or bro" to be used and "my vocabulary has exhausted itself."
The judge struck his hand on his desk, saying witnesses and attorneys needed to refer to individuals, not groups.
Walid Omar Aden was acquainted with the men involved in the 2009 murder.
So when Kot and Aden ran into each other at a Pump & Pantry store, things escalated. Aden allegedly called Kot a "snitch" for testifying.
Kot said in his words, "I fired the gun" during a dispute at the convenience store.
Kot had gone to cash in lottery tickets, and ran into Aden and two others. They used sexual and racial slurs against him, including the n-word.
Kot said he was angry, and went back to his car to get a gun. He claims Aden threatened him, saying he had a gun, so Kot said he believed he was going to be killed.
Hall County Attorney Mark Young pointed out inconsistencies in the story and questioned why he waited to tell police.
Instead Kot talked to several members of the local Sudanese community first.
On a side not, Kot said Friday his uncle was former NBA star Manute Bol, whose funeral he attended days before this shooting.
It's not clear if they were blood relations, or if Bol was considered an uncle because of tribal connections.
In a rare move, the judge opted to reconvene on Veteran's Day despite that being a court holiday.
The case could go to the jury at that time.