Defense rests in trial of man accused of killing BAFB airman
BENTON, LA (KSLA) - The defense for the man accused of killing a Barksdale Air Force Base airman rested its case Thursday afternoon.
Closing arguments in the trial of 21-year-old Benjamin Shaw are set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Shaw is being tried on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of Tech. Sgt. Zechariah Casagranda in January outside a Bossier City nightclub.
On Thursday, Shaw's attorney called witnesses to examine the fight that preceded the deadly stabbing.
The first witness called by Jose Baez was Danny Harris, a contractor at Rockin' Rodeo.
Harris testified that Casagranda and his two friends were pointed out to him by another club employee the night of the stabbing.
"You said they were pointed out to you?" Baez asked.
"Correct....when it was brought to my attention that they had said something," Harris said.
Once they were pointed out, Harris testified he grabbed a broom and dust pan and went over to the table Casagranda and his friends were sitting at, sweeping around them. He said there were a lot of cigarette butts on the floor.
Harris said he then asked out loud where all these cigarette butts came from. According to Harris' testimony, several women told him they were from Casagranda and his friends.
"I asked them if they had been throwing the cigarette butts," said Harris.
Baez then asked if they had a conversation.
Baez then asked if Casagranda and his friends could be considered "troublemakers" in that moment.
"Would you classify this group as falling into this category?" Baez asked.
"At that moment, no," Harris replied.
"Later on, would you have classified them in that group?" the attorney followed.
"Yes," Harris answered.
Harris testified that he was flagged down again later that evening. He said he ran outside and found Casagranda, Shaw and their friends fighting outside the club.
According to Harris' testimony, he and club entertainer Trini Triggs broke up the fight. Harris stayed with Casagranda and his friends. Triggs stayed with Shaw and his friends.
Harris testified Casagranda and his friends did not listen to him back inside the club. According to Haris' testimony, the group went back outside led by one of Casagranda's friends.
Triggs also took the stand Thursday morning after Harris.
"Did Mr. Shaw cooperate with you?" Baez asked.
"Yes," Triggs replied.
But Harris said on the stand that Casagranda and his friends did not listen to him even after he identified himself as club management. He testified that one of Casagranda's friends ran out of the club with Casagranda following behind.
"'Y'all need to stay in here,'" Harris testified telling them.
"The short guy didn't listen to you?" Baez asked.
"Did not," Harris confirmed.
According to Triggs, he had Shaw and his friends almost to the end of the building when Casagranda's friend ran out.
"One of the airman guys ran out....they got chest-to-chest again," he said.
According to their testimony, Harris said Triggs blocked off Shaw and held him against the club window.
Both Harris and Triggs testified they managed to get the two groups walking around the building in separate directions. In that second heated moment outside of Rockin' Rodeo, Harris testified Casagranda and his friends started it.
Under cross-examination, state prosecutor Andrew Jacobs contested that notion, pointing out how Triggs had to keep Shaw against the club window.
"Why would you grab the peaceful person and put them up against the wall?" Jacobs asked Harris.
"He restrained the party that he had been dealing with," Harris responded.
According to Harris, it was only five minutes later that he was taking trash out the back door of the building when he saw the fight that would lead to Casagranda's deadly stabbing.
"I saw a group of people outside. There's somebody laying on the ground," Harris testified.
He said once he weaved through the crowd and saw the blood, he ran back inside the club to get the general manager.
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