Trial of airman's accused killer turns to what led to fatal fight

Published: Jun. 19, 2017 at 6:39 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2017 at 10:49 PM CDT
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Jurors heard new details Monday about what led up to the fight that resulted in a Barksdale Air Force Base airman's death.

BENTON, LA (KSLA) - Day 2 of the trial wrapped up just before 5 p.m.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Bossier District Court in Benton.

Prosecutor Andrew Jacobs and 21-year-old Benjamin Shaw's defense attorney, Jose Baez, called William Lawrence and Senior Airman Dalton Wren to the stand Monday.
Shaw is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 34-year-old Tech. Sgt. Zechariah Casagranda on Jan. 23, 2016, outside a Bossier City nightclub that then operated as Rockin' Rodeo.
Lawrence and Wren both were there with Casagranda the night he died.
Wren testified that they never saw Shaw and his two friends until they were exiting the club that night.
Wren claimed Shaw started yelling at Casagranda, so Wren yelled back.
"Telling them to f*** off and to leave," Wren said.
Jacobs asked Wren what Shaw and the others were yelling at Casagranda.
"F*** off, old man! Stuff like that." Wren replied.
The senior airman told prosecutors the shouting match lasted only a half minute before club security separated them and "somebody grabbed Benjamin Shaw and kind of carried him off."
Lawrence corroborated that testimony when he was on the stand.
However, a third witness taking the stand, Cami Bailey, told the jury a disagreement actually began inside the club.
Bailey testified she was at Rockin' Rodeo that night with her husband and sister celebrating her sister's birthday.
According to Bailey's testimony, she saw Casagranda arguing with another man on the front of the dance floor at closing time.
"That led to kind of a scuffle....they were pushing each other," Bailey said.
Baez accused Lawrence and his friends of following Shaw afterward.
"You followed them outside," Baez told Lawrence during cross-examination.
"We exited the bar," Lawrence replied.
Baez questioned the statements Lawrence made on the stand.
"You're really trying to distance yourself from this entire incident, aren't you?" Baez asked.
"I don't understand what you mean," Lawrence replied.
Wren testified that he and Casagranda walked around the building to warm up in their truck before calling a cab.
He said that is when Casagranda spotted Shaw and his group in the back parking lot.
"He said: 'There's those guys right there'," Wren recalled.
"The other guy threw his arms up. He threw his arms up. They started approaching each other."
"What did you think was going to happen?" Jacobs asked.
"A fight," Wren replied.
However, Baez questioned Wren's inconsistencies on this point.
In court, Baez pointed out how Wren did not talk about anyone throwing their arms up to Bossier City Police or to Air Force investigators.
"Today is the very first time you've said anybody raised their hands," Baez told Wren.
"Yes, sir," Wren replied.
The senior airman said he then ran toward Shaw's group behind Casagranda when they collided in the back parking lot.
Wren testified that one of Shaw's friends hit him and took him to the ground.
"I was trying to grab him. I went down in my hands and knees."
Wren said he lost sight of Casagranda during the fight, which he said lasted 10 seconds before Shaw's friend got off him
Lawrence testified that he walked up on the fight after walking around the club on the opposite side of Casagranda and Wren.
"That's when you see Mr. Casagranda?" Baez asked.
"Yes," Lawrence replied.
"You saw blood, right?" Baez said.
"Yes, sir," Lawrence said. "I just froze and saw everything."
Wren said the next thing he remembered after the fight ended was seeing Lawrence walk up to him and telling him Shaw and his friends were running to their hotel next door.
Wren claimed he still didn't see Casagranda when he and Lawrence pursued Shaw and his friends to their hotel.
Wren and Lawrence said they made it to Shaw's hotel but the doors were locked and they asked the lobby attendant to let them in while Shaw's friends inside told her not to.
Lawrence testified that he tried to open the doors himself.
"You were trying to pry open those doors," Baez said.
"Yes, sir, I did try to open the doors," Lawrence replied.
But their attempts were unsuccessful.
Wren said he and Lawrence then walked back toward the club when they saw Casagranda sitting on a concrete curb with other people holding his wounds.
Jacobs showed the courtroom a photograph of a curb with a large pool of blood covering it.
"This area is....where Zack was sitting," Lawrence confirmed.

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