Trial begins for suspect in UP Mall fatal shooting

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The trial started Monday for Dazhon Howard, who is accused of shooting and killing Delaney Crosby in September 2020 at the University Park Mall.

Jury selection started Monday morning and was seated around 12:30 p.m.

Opening statements began after a brief lunch break.

The state said there are some facts in the case that are not in dispute. Dazhon Howard fired the shots and purchased the gun used in the shooting. They laid out who would be testifying, including witnesses to the shooting, the pathologist who did the autopsy and the officers who collected evidence.

The defense said the shooting was a case of self defense because of an ongoing conflict with Crosby. They alleged Crosby robbed Howard in July 2020, but didn’t report it to police. The day of the shooting, Crosby threatened Howard throughout the mall and had to defend himself.

The first witness was an employee of the Athens Jewelry store in the mall. The shooting happened outside the store and was captured on surveillance video.

The witness testified hearing an argument before hearing shots fired.

The state then entered surveillance video from the jewelry store into evidence and played it for the jury.

After a recess, court resumed with testimony from Dr. Kent Harshbarger, a forensic pathologist and the coroner for Montgomery County, Ohio.

Dr. Harshbarger reviewed the findings of Crosby’s autopsy, which included gunshot wounds to arm, shoulder, head and neck.

One of the gunshots traveled from the shoulder into his neck and struck a major artery.

Toxicology reports found low levels of nicotine, marijuana, and methamphetamine in Crosby’s system at the time of his death.

The defense asked Dr. Harshbarger about the symptoms of methamphetamine use, including hallucinations and violent behavior.

Dr. Harshbarger was unable to say whether the levels found in Crosby’s system would be able to induce hallucinations or violent behavior.

Following his testimony, court recessed for the day.

The trial will resume on Tuesday.


BACKGROUND

Mishawaka Police were called to the University Park Mall around 2:45 p.m. September 12, 2020, for reports of a shooting.

Inside the mall, they found Delaney Crosby, 23, deceased with apparent gunshot wounds, reports said.

Video from social media and store surveillance systems showed a single shooter - a man in an orange hooded sweatshirt, reports said.

Police said just before the shooting, the victim and the shooter's friends had been in a verbal altercation, reports said.

The shooter held a black backpack, pulled a gun from the backpack while standing behind a friend, then came out from behind his friend and fired at the victim, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The victim ducked and the shooter fired multiple shots at the victim, reports said.

The victim fell and everyone else ran from the scene, reports said.

Police said the victim was not seen making any threatening moves in the seconds leading up to the shooting.

Several spent shell casings were recovered near the victim.

The black backpack was recovered outside the mall and contained a semiautomatic handgun, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Police interviewed a woman who was with the alleged shooter at the mall and identified him as Howard, according to the probable cause affidavit.

She knew Howard because he grew up with her boyfriend and said he was wearing a bright orange hoodie, reports said.

While at the mall, she said Crosby called her friends a derogatory name, then asked if they wanted to take it outside where he, "Had something for y'all," according to the probable cause affidavit.

The two sides argued back and forth while walking through the mall, reports said.

She told police Crosby flinched at their group like he was going to do something and Howard drew the gun and fired at Crosby, according to the probable cause affidavit.

She said they all ran and when they got into the car she asked Howard, "What'd you do that for?" reports said.

Another man who was with Howard at the mall said Crosby said something to their group about going outside and a man with Crosby appeared to be clutching, reports said.

When the shooting happened, he said he was surprised and told police he couldn't be pulled into criminal conduct because his family needs him.

He then stated Howard's family needs him too, "but he did this dumb [expletive deleted] man," according to the probable cause affidavit.


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