Above the children riding bikes at the Garden Apartments hangs a sign; "Management Prohibits Carrying a Handgun on These Premises." An unheeded rule with tragic results for Ishmael Hernandez, gunned down last August.
The shooting took place at the entry way to apartment number 8. Ishmael Hernandez had come over for a party. The door was wide open. According to witnesses, someone from inside yelled something at Eric Willis. He came to the doorway, had a heated exchange with Hernandez, allegedly pulled out a gun, firing at point blank range, hitting Hernandez in the head.
During court Monday, the jury heard tearful testimony from the victim's cousin, identifying a blood-soaked shirt worn by Ishmael the night he was killed. "My nephew was a good boy, he had friends, he didn't have enemies," said Angelita Hernandez, one of more than a dozen family members who turned out for the trial, many seeing Willis for the first time.
"This will be the first time that I've seen him, the first time. So, that's what makes me real nervous right now is having to see him, come face to face with that," she said.
Adding to the pain, a smiling murder defendant at the end of the day, walking past a Hernandez gathering in tears. "He'll get what he deserves. I'm hoping they give him life, that's what he deserves," said Angelita.
Willis claims self-defense. That hernandez was found with a knife near his body and cocaine in his system. Testimony resumes Tuesday morning at 9:00 am.