The Norman Transcript

March 6, 2014

16-year-old faces first-degree murder charge; judge rules probable cause to pursue case

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Cleveland County Special Judge Steve Stice ruled there was probable cause and bound an Oklahoma City teen over for trial on a murder charge after a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Brajuan Troynell Napoleon, 16, was charged with first-degree murder in October after he allegedly shot and killed 17-year-old Alex Matlock at a party in Moore.

Much of the small courtroom was filled by Napoleon’s family members Wednesday, but his mother was sequestered before the first witness was called to the stand.

Attorneys and the judge decided that since the mother could be called to testify if the case went to trial, it was best that she not be present to hear other witness’ testimony. Napoleon’s mother contacted police after she heard her son was involved in the death, court records show.

A 16-year-old female, who said she was close friends with Matlock, was the only one to testify Wednesday. She and another friend were with Matlock the night of the incident, reports indicate.

The teen estimated that around 30 people were at the party that night and alcohol and marijuana were present. While both Matlock and her other friend were drinking, she said she did not see them smoke marijuana. Since she was four months pregnant at the time, she said she did not drink or smoke.

The teen testified she was near the radio in the living room when a group of 10 to 12 people walked in and the person who lived there got mad because he didn’t know any of them, the teen said. Napoleon was in the large group.

The owner already was agitated and trying to get people to leave, but after the group walked in, he started trying to kick everyone out, she said.

While she and her friends were standing outside, she heard one of her friends say to Napoleon, “If you’re going to talk smack, step out into the street.” At that point, Napoleon and about four of his friends stepped toward the street and she remembered Matlock telling their friend, “I got your back, bro.”

Napoleon then pulled out a gun and she remembered him pointing it at her friend. He put his hands in the air and backed away, saying something like, “Whoa, bro,” the teen said.

Then Napoleon pointed the gun at Matlock’s chest and shot him at nearly point-blank range, she said.

Matlock fell to the ground and she took off running into the house as others at the party ran away, as well. Napoleon and his friends also took off, she said. She stayed in the house for a minute or two.

“I didn’t want to think he was in the middle of the street bleeding,” the teen said.

Eventually, she went back out to Matlock and they started checking his pulse and someone took off their shirt to put pressure on the wound. A girl called 911, and when the ambulance and police arrived, they cared for Matlock and began investigating.

During cross examination, the teen said she never heard Napoleon speak. She only heard her friend tell him to step to the street if he was going to talk smack.

When asked if Matlock had half of a glass bottle in his hand or any kind of weapon, the teen said no.

“I’m 100 percent sure there was no bottle in Alex’s hand,” she said.

At the time of the incident, she was standing closest to Matlock and her other friend was standing behind them about 5 to 6 feet, she said. People from the party had gathered behind her a few feet, as well, she said, but she was closest to her friends.

The teen testified that it looked like the gun barrel was touching Matlock’s chest, or very close to it, when he was shot.

After the teen’s testimony, Assistant District Attorney Kim Conyers submitted the medical examiner’s report as the only piece of evidence Wednesday. The report stated the probable cause of Matlock’s death was a gunshot wound to the chest and the manner of death was homicide.

However, defense attorney Samuel Talley said the report indicated there was no powder stippling, which is the result of a close gunshot wound, which means Napoleon shot Matlock further away then what the teen testified.

He also argued the state failed to prove the crime of first-degree murder because the crime was not premeditated.

“What you have is a 16-year-old kid who brought a gun to a party,” Talley said.

Talley also urged the judge to consider evidence from a different hearing, which was not presented in court Wednesday through either testimony or exhibits.

Talley said the evidence he wanted the judge to consider was that witnesses from the party said Matlock had a bottle in his hand with his arm raised to Napoleon and the investigating detective found a bottle at the scene.

Since the judge is required to make a determination of probable cause from only the testimony and evidence presented during the preliminary hearing, Stice ruled Napoleon be bound over for trial as charged. Formal arraignment will be set up with District Judge Lori Walkley, he said.

State law dictates that individuals age 15 to 17 charged with first-degree murder to be tried as an adult.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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