NORFOLK — Jake Carey was asleep in the two-story house near Old Dominion University he shared with a fraternity brother when he heard someone breaking in through their front door early one morning in June 2011.
“I heard a loud bang,” Carey said Thursday during testimony in Norfolk Circuit Court. “It kind of reverberated the entire house.”
Carey said he then heard what sounded like multiple people running up the stairs toward the bedroom where his roommate, Christopher Cummings, slept. Next, he heard Cummings’ door being kicked in, some yelling, a scuffle, then a gunshot.
Testifying during the second day of a trial for Javon Doyle, one of four men charged last year with murdering Cummings, Carey said he heard another shot and then a loud rumble down the stairs. When he got up, he saw Cummings lying just outside his bedroom door.
The 20-year-old — a nephew of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings — was covered in blood and unresponsive. Within moments, Carey was shot multiple times.
Prosecutors have said Cummings was killed during a failed attempt by four men to rob the college student of the marijuana he’d been dealing from his home.
Doyle’s case is the first to go to trial. Charges against two others were dismissed earlier this summer after their defense attorneys refuted some evidence and accused prosecutors of misconduct. A fourth man, Rashad Dooley, is scheduled for trial next month. Doyle’s trial began Wednesday and is expected to go to the jury by Friday.
On Thursday, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cynthia Collard asked Circuit Judge Everett Martin to close the courtroom to anyone outside the defendant’s and the victim’s families, arguing that Dooley and another man had been spending time in the courtroom, glaring at the victim’s families in an intimidating manner, then following them after they left the courthouse. Martin denied the request.
Carey, now 31 and working as a restaurant manager, said he couldn’t identify the person who shot him when he left his bedroom that day.
“As I opened the door, a figure came from the kitchen,” Carey testified. “I was unable to recognize the face of the person because it was so quick.”
Bleeding profusely from wounds to his neck, shoulder and hand, Carey stumbled to a neighbor’s house to get help. He spent several days in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries.
Carey said hours before the shooting, Cummings had called him and asked him to hurry home.
“He said something bad had happened and that he’d like me to come home immediately,” Carey testified.
When he arrived, he saw Cummings arguing with a man on the front porch while two other men sat in a small red car in the driveway.
“Chris said something like, ‘I can’t believe you let that happen in our home,’” Carey said. “Why would you let that happen?”
After the men left, Carey said he headed back to a friend’s house, while Cummings stayed home. Carey returned a couple of hours later and went to bed.
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In other testimony Thursday, Norfolk cold case detective Jon Smith told jurors he’d reopened the Cummings case in June 2020 after the police chief asked him to look into it.
Smith said he found surveillance video that showed a small red car coming into and leaving the area of Cummings’ house at about the time the argument and the shootings occurred, but he couldn’t tell the make and model of the car, or make out the license plate.
Smith said he thought it was significant because Dooley, who’d been identified as a suspect early in the case, had a red, two-door Honda Civic.
Also on Thursday, Kevin Ashby, a man who grew up with Doyle and is serving time in federal prison on murder and racketeering charges, told jurors Doyle admitted to taking part in the incident that led to Cummings’ shooting.
Ashby claimed Doyle told him another man in the group — Kwaume Edwards — fired the shots. Edwards was one of those who had charges dismissed. Ashby also said Doyle told him the group had gone to Cummings’ house that night to rob him of marijuana and that Cummings was shot after he resisted.
Under cross examination by defense attorney Emily Munn, Ashby said his current sentence of life in prison was significantly reduced after he cooperated with federal prosecutors in other cases. He’s now set to be released in 2038, he said.
Jane Harper, email@example.com