A Grand Rapids man has been ordered to stand trial for a late September shooting on the city’s Southeast Side that killed one person and left the victim’s teenaged stepson critically injured with a gunshot to the neck.
After hearing testimony from nine witnesses, including three on Tuesday, Nov. 29, Grand Rapids District Court Judge Michael J. Distel determined there was enough evidence to have 21-year-old Martez McLaughlin stand trial on felonies that could put him in prison for life.
McLaughlin was arrested a day after the Sept. 26 shooting. He is charged with open murder, attempted murder and felony use of a firearm for the 9:30 p.m. incident on Eastern Avenue near Oakdale Street SE. It was the city’s ninth of 11 murders this year.
The shooting followed a dispute at a home on Eastern. After being shot once in the chest, 38-year-old Joseph Charles Banks fled to nearby party store, where he collapsed and died.
Grand Rapids police performed CPR on the wounded boy, identified as Banks’ stepson. He has since recovered. Friends and family held a vigil two days later outside O&E Party Store on Eastern, near the shooting scene.
Investigators say the gunfire stemmed from a dispute, but a key witness testified Tuesday there was no hostility when he and McLaughlin walked up the porch that night. They were looking for another man, but were told he was in jail.
Nathaniel Vance, who is McLaughlin’s uncle, said he shook Banks’ hand and was leaving the porch when he heard two gunshots.
“I turn to leave to walk off the porch and I hear shots,’' Vance testified. “I ducked. As soon as I hear those gunshots, I got low; took off.’’
He and McLaughlin left in a car. McLaughlin, he said, apologized for what happened.
“He said ‘I’m sorry,’’’ Vance testified. ”He said 'I’m sorry; I’m responsible for what I done.’’'
A medical examiner testified that Banks died from a single gunshot to the right upper chest that traveled downward and exited through his back.