Opening statements, testimony begins in Zaevion Dobson murder trial

Local News

Opening statements were given Tuesday in day two of the Zaevion Dobson murder trial. The Knoxville teen was shot and killed nearly two years ago while shielding others from gunfire.

Richard Williams III, Kipling Colbert Jr. and Christopher Bassett are all facing charges of first degree murder.

The state painted a picture of Dobson as an innocent victim and hero.

“He was facing that gunfire when it happened, and as he was leaning over, he takes a bullet,” said the prosecutor.

One of the most chilling parts of the state’s opening was a 911 call made that night by the woman that owned the home in Lonsdale where the shooting happened.

Listening to the recordings also were Zenobia Dobson and her other son Zack. He was with Zaevion when he was shot and killed.

The state says 34 shots were fired at Zaevion and his five friends that night. The state is arguing all three defendants are members of a gang, saying investigators found gang graffiti on signs at the scene of a shooting earlier that night and all three defendants were in a rap video together.

Bassett’s attorney says he is not a gang member.

“It’s a bunch of dumb kids making videos,” said attorney T. Scott Jones.

He believes the state is leaving out important facts and says a witness will testify his client is not guilty of criminal responsibility.

“My man Mr. Bassett shot up in the air,” said Jones.

The state argues the gun that fired the bullet that killed Zaevion Dobson belongs to Richard Williams. His attorney urged jurors to focus on the facts, not circumstantial evidence.

“Don’t get caught up in the story pointing fingers in who was there,” said Williams’ attorney.

Testimony begins

The state began calling its experts to the stand, presenting photos from the crime scene in Lonsdale. The defendants did not appear to show any emotion when Zaevion Dobson’s body was shown.

An evidence technician from the Knoxville Police Department was called to the stand. She said she responded to multiple shootings that night, collecting evidence and taking photos.

Shell casings and bullet holes were found near where Dobson was killed. The evidence technician said she found .40 caliber gun casings and 9mm casings.

She said she found one single gunshot wound on Dobson’s body.

The state says shell casings from a .40 caliber gun were also found at another shooting scene that night on Dallas Street. 

The state showed dashcam video of that crime scene, saying the man caught on the video is Bassett.

The state also played 911 calls for more than an hour, many from people calling about hearing gunshots around Knoxville.

Trial resumes Wednesday morning when the state will continue calling witnesses.

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