Shooting victim lost baby after cinema shooting
A woman who was shot along with her gang-affiliated boyfriend had discovered she was pregnant just days beforehand.
A tearful Renee Kuchler told a jury she had an abortion on doctors' advice after being shot three times and suffering serious injuries.
She was attacked, along with boyfriend Shaki Minors, as they left a late-night movie at Southside Cinema on Friday, November 13, 2009.
Both suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and took the witness stand at Supreme Court yesterday to testify in the case against two men accused of the attempted murder.
Mr Minors, 28, told the jury he was an associate of the 42 “crew” at the time of the attack, which was engaged in a “war” with the rival Parkside crew.
Prosecutors say alleged Parkside associate Jahmel Blakeney, 30, masterminded the attack after spotting the couple at the cinema.
They allege that Parkside associate Sanchey Grant, 20, was the gunman who later opened fire. Both defendants deny attempted murder, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition.
During her evidence, Ms Kuchler, 26, explained she was a media arts teacher at CedarBridge Academy at the time of the attack. She drove to the cinema in St David's with Mr Minors in her black Mazda car. Shortly after they left the film and got back in the car, gunshots rang out.
Crying as she recalled the attack, she told the jury: “I heard three shots. I didn't know that it was gunshots. I thought it was a car backfiring.
“I looked down and I was bleeding and saw blood and then I said 'I've been shot' and he [Shaki] said 'I've been hit too'.”
Ms Kuchler said Mr Minors opened the car door to get out, but when she tried to get out “my legs wouldn't work”. She had been hit twice in the abdomen by bullets and once in the leg.
The bullet to her leg destroyed a major artery, and Ms Kuchler still walks with a cane. She was allowed by the judge to sit while she delivered her evidence.
Ms Kuchler told the jury: “I had actually found out I was pregnant on the Tuesday and I was shot on the Friday.”
She explained she terminated the pregnancy on medical advice after the shooting because of the drugs and X-rays she needed for her treatment.
She did not see the gunman.
In his evidence, Mr Minors said he grew up in the 42 area but used to have friends in Parkside too. “I was always associated with 42nd,” he said, going on to admit under cross-examination that he has a 42 tattoo on his back.
His attention was caught while in the cinema by four young women who were staring at him and texting on their phones. One of the women worked on Court Street in Pembroke and was affiliated with Parkside, according to him.
Mr Minors told the jury that at the time of the attack, 42 and Parkside were engaged in a feud.
“My brother passed away from it,” he explained.
Mr Minors said he knew Mr Blakeney from school and from playing football at Dandy Town, and knew Mr Grant's father and watched him grow up. He said both defendants had Parkside associations.
Mr Minors was shot twice in his right arm, once in his left arm and once in his stomach, and still suffers from numbness in his left hand. He said he saw the gunman, who was dressed in dark clothing and was an estimated 19 to 25 years old.
Mr Minors no longer lives in Bermuda.
In her opening speech, prosecutor Larissa Burgess said Mr Blakeney was also at the cinema that night and purchased tickets for the film, but left without seeing it and drove back to town.
“You've heard me say that there was a sole shooter at Southside. It's the Crown's case that that shooter was Mr Grant and that Mr Blakeney was the mastermind in this,” alleged the prosecutor.
“He had seen Shaki Minors at Southside Cinema and he made the effort to drive back to town and drive back to St David's to facilitate the shooting.
“You may also hear that this attempted murder was a retaliatory attack by Parkside on 42.”
She indicated the prosecution will call experts to testify about gunshot residue and DNA.
The case continues.