First of 5 suspects in 2016 Club Blu shooting goes on trial Tuesday

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The five suspects in the 2016 Club Blu shooting. Credit: WINK News

The first trial in 2016’s deadly Club Blu shooting gets underway Tuesday morning, with four other suspects yet to be tried.

24-year-old Kierra Russ will be the first suspect to go on trial for the shooting that claimed the lives of two teenagers, 18-year-old Stef’an Strawder and 14-year-old Sean Archilles, and there are several factors complicating this particular case.

Investigators say on July 25, 2016, 1Way gang members dressed in dark clothing met at a home and left heavily armed, headed to Club Blu on teen night with a plan to attack their rival gang, called the Bottom Boys.

Police recovered more than 100 shell casings that night and were able to link them to 15 different firearms. Criminal defense attorney Lance Dunford says as the years pass, evidence can get misplaced, damaged or even destroyed, which complicates the case when it goes to trial. Another complication is the fact that this shooting involved gangs.

“When you’re talking about gangs, or any type of affiliation, like, you always have the possibility of people shirking responsibility or shirking blame from one person to another; was that the actual shooter or someone covering for somebody else?” Dunford said. “Witnesses do remember things different ways, memories do fade, stories change.”

When it comes to a case involving multiple suspects, Dunford says there’s no telling how long Russ’s trial will last.

“We saw it with the Lake Boyz trial and other gang trials that kind of came out of this area, where you’d have kind of smatterings of trials one month, and then some dead time where they were kind of getting reformulated,” Dunford said. “And then another ramp-up of trials, you saw that some people were getting tried together. You saw… so, some people were getting tried independently. These are things that could influence how long a trial takes.”

All five suspects face two second-degree murder charges each, punishable by life in prison, and a conspiracy to commit murder charge, which is a second-degree felony. The trial started at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

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