ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Jury selection and opening arguments wrapped up and the first few witnesses were called on Wednesday in the trial of Akeeley Blade, one of four teens charged in connection with the 2016 robbery and murder of Michael Butler at a Motel 6 in Alexandria.
(Source: Alexandria Police Department)
In opening arguments, prosecutor Jermaine Harris started things by telling the jury, "I'll get straight to the point, the facts are the facts." He said all evidence will show that Blade planned and committed the crimes.
Defense attorney Michael Brewer told the jury he agrees that Blade was involved in the incident, but he said that the others in the case were just as involved.
Brewer asked the jury to "Keep an open mind about what crime Blade should be found guilty of." He urged that they consider manslaughter instead of murder.
Next, Harris started calling his witnesses. First up was Brooke Daniels, a co-defendant who took a plea deal earlier this year. Harris asked Daniels to recount what led to the beating of Butler.
She testified that she and many other teens were at the motel for a party. While there, another girl at the party asked Butler, who was a guest at the motel, for $100. Daniels said, in return, Butler asked the girl for sexual favors.
Daniels said this led Blade and Camryn Lasyone, another co-defendant who also took a plea deal earlier this year, to come up with a plan to rob Butler.
Daniels said the two asked her to knock on Butler's door and even gave her a code word (‘okay’) to let them know when they could rush in. She said she saw Blade and Lasyone enter Butler's motel room before she ran away. However, she said she did not see Travis Weston, the fourth co-defendant who is still awaiting trial, enter the room before she ran away.
When Brewer questioned Daniels, he asked if Blade and Lasyone were equally involved in the planning and execution of the incident. She said, "They did the same part."
Daniels also told Brewer that when they were leaving, Lasyone said that he wanted to get the first ‘lick’ in next time.
Brewer ended by asking Daniels, "Do you realize that if you wouldn't have knocked on that door, Michael Butler wouldn't have died that night?" She started crying on the stand and said, “Yes.”
Next we heard from one Alexandria Police officer who responded to the scene that night. He found Butler and interviewed him before he was taken to the hospital. The officer said Butler did his best to describe what happened to him, but was heavily beaten and was dazed.
Harris also introduced several phone calls that Blade made to his mother, Jessica Mitchell, and grandmother, Irene Roy, after his arrest.
The first one was a call to his mother. She asked him, “You hit a man five times?” He said, “Yes.” Blade’s mother then asked, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Blade answered, “I made a mistake, I made a big a** mistake.” Blade insisted to his mother that he was going to get the murder charge dropped.
In a second call to his mother, she asked, “You know you’re not innocent, right?” Blade answered, “Yes.”
In a call in his grandmother, he said he didn’t understand how Butler died because he was alive when he left the room. He believed that someone else could have gone into the room afterwards.
Blade began crying while these calls were being played.
The trial will continue on Thursday at 9 a.m.