Indianapolis police officer recounts Leeshawn Rodgers' arrest

Witnesses took the stand during the second day of a murder trial Feb. 18.

Posted on Feb. 18, 2014 at 2:50 p.m.

ELKHART — During the second day of jury trial for Leeshawn Rodgers, witnesses provided more details about a fatal shooting in which Eddie Johnson, 34, died.

Rodgers, 20, is charged with murder and faces up to 65 years in prison if convicted. Rodgers is accused of fatally shooting Johnson on April 30, 2013.

Those called to testify Tuesday morning included Devonda Wiley and her cousin, Quintara Wiley, who told the jury about how they were outside the house on the corner of Cleveland Avenue and Sixth Street the afternoon of April 30.

Devonda Wiley said she was in her truck, a red Ford F-150, when she heard gunshots. Upon hearing the gunshots she got out and crouched behind the truck. She looked around and saw Rodgers and Johnson struggling with a gun.

Devonda Wiley said she heard more gunshots, and when she looked around she saw Johnson on the ground, lying on his stomach.

Devonda and Quintara Wiley, as well as other witnesses, carried Johnson into Devonda Wiley's truck and took him to the hospital.

Both Quintara and Devonda Wiley were emotional when they described how they carried Johnson into the truck, struggling to get him inside because Johnson was too tall.

Devonda and Quintara Wiley, as well as two other witnesses, placed both Johnson and Rodgers at the scene, but they did not see Rodgers shoot Johnson.

Neither of them knew what happened to the gun.

Freddie Johnson, who didn't live in the neighborhood but knew many people in the area near the shooting, also testified, saying he drove near the corner of Sixth Street and Cleveland Avenue when the shooting happened.

Freddie Johnson had stopped to talk with Eddie Johnson shortly before the shooting, he said. Freddie Johnson also said he saw Rodgers approaching Eddie Johnson, that Eddie Johnson tried to put his arm around Rodgers and that Rodgers pulled away.

Freddie Johnson said after the shooting, a man he knows as Thswjaun Bonds went chasing after Rodgers. Freddie Johnson helped the people at the scene carry Eddie Johnson onto Devonda Wiley's truck. He also let others at the scene ride with him to the hospital.

Two evidence technicians and the lead detective in Eddie Johnson's homicide investigation also testified.

Sgt. Denise Houser and Detective Mike Hershberger, the Elkhart Police Department's evidence technicians, gave the jury a walk-through of the scene at the shooting. They collected only 10 items as evidence at the scene, including three hats, a blood stain and copper-colored fragments. They did not find a gun.

Houser said she initially was called to Elkhart General Hospital, where she was given some evidence from the shooting.

Hershberger told the jury that aside from collecting evidence the day of the shooting April 30, he also went to the Elkhart County Jail to take an oral swab sample. Hershberger said Rodgers initially refused to cooperate but then changed his mind.

Detective John Mohan, the lead detective in the investigation, told the jury an initial investigation led the homicide unit to determine Rodgers was a person of interest. The homicide unit tried to find Rodgers so they could get "his side of the story," Mohan said.

However, after not being able to locate him, the unit got a tip saying Rodgers was in Indianapolis. The unit completed its investigation, and a warrant was issued for Rodger's arrest and forwarded to police in Indianapolis.

Detective Matt Stevenson, who works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, also testified and told the jury about the day of Rodgers' arrest.

After doing some research, Stevenson found an apartment where he thought Rodgers would be staying. Stevenson and some officers went to the apartment, surrounded it and knocked on the door.

A woman's voice asked, "Who is it?" and Stevenson identified himself. Stevenson said it took the people inside the apartment about five minutes to open the door to the police. Eventually, officers found Rodgers, who came out from a room inside the apartment.

Rodgers was arrested and transferred to Elkhart.

Other witnesses are expected to testify in court Wednesday morning, including a pathologist and a DNA expert.



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