KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The mother of Zaevion Dobson broke down and briefly left a Tennessee courtroom Wednesday as a jury saw the clothes the 15-year-old was wearing the night he died shielding friends from gunfire.
Zenobia Dobson's emotional response came during the second day of testimony at the Knoxville trial of Christopher Drone Bassett, Kipling Deshawn Colbert and Richard Gregory Williams III. All three face murder charges in connection with Dobson's Dec. 17, 2015, shooting death.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steven Sword denied a defense motion for a mistrial. He reminded jurors that "it's perfectly fine to be sympathetic — I'd be surprised if you weren't — just don't let that cloud your evaluation of the facts of the law."
Zenobia Dobson returned to the courtroom after a short recess.
After the shooting, Dobson was praised by then-President Barack Obama for his bravery. Dobson posthumously received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2016 ESPYs. The award recognizes individuals embodying the spirt of Ashe, who dedicated his life to human rights advocacy.
Later Wednesday, a witness reluctantly testified how he talked to police and later got shot by one of the defendants. Larry North said Wednesday that he didn't remember much about what happened on Dec. 17, 2015, but the jury saw a videotape of an interview he gave police that night in which he offered more details.
North said his friendship with the defendants cooled after that night because they believed he had spoken to police. North said Williams shot him several times the following April.
Williams was convicted earlier this year of attempted murder in the shooting of North and received a 36-year prison sentence.
North acted defiantly during much of his testimony Wednesday. He wore sunglasses throughout his testimony and said it was because he didn't want to make eye contact.
"This was a situation I got shot because of," North said. "I'm trying to get this (stuff) behind me, in the back of my head. I don't remember this. I try to put this in the back of my memory. You keep asking me the same questions."