Kalamazoo man killed neighbor over argument over children’s football match, victim’s fiancee says

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KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI – A man charged with shooting and killing another man following an argument that began over a children’s football game in March will be tried in County Circuit Court in Kalamazoo.

David Lawrence Barnes, 45, has been charged with open murder and a felony weapons charge in the murder of Elijah Roberson, 30. He is due in court on October 30 for a pre-trial.

Roberson was shot seven times, according to his autopsy report. The man was found by MPs shortly before 9:30 p.m. on March 8 in the parking lot of Canterbury House Apartments in Oshtemo Township. He was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced dead, MPs said at the time.

Medical examiner Dr Ted Brown said at a preliminary hearing in July that Roberson was shot twice in the back, one in the back and one in the right back of the head. He also had multiple entry and exit injuries to his limbs, including an injury to the front of his left hand, the doctor said.

During their investigation, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Deputies found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun in Barnes ‘apartment that matched the caliber used to kill Roberson, according to Barnes’ arrest affidavit .

“Sir. Barnes maintains that Mr. Roberson had a gun on him and a gun in his pants and that is why, as the pathologist stated, there was a bullet in the front of his left hand,” he said. Barnes defense attorney Kiana Garrity told MLive on September 29.

“Sir. Roberson was left-handed and that’s where (Barnes) fired first. My client claims it was an act of self-defense,” she said.

Roberson’s fiance Patrice Fuller testified to the contrary during the July 14 hearing in Kalamazoo County District Court, saying his fiance was unarmed when he was shot. Fuller said he turned around and was walking away from a verbal argument with Barnes when he was shot repeatedly by the accused.

Barnes, Garrity told MLive, is a veteran and registered and legal gun owner, as well as a concealed pistol holder.

“Sir. Barnes has no criminal history,” she said. “He’s a married father. He’s a salaried employee. He worked for the state of Michigan. Someone who’s been trained with guns and has a history like that doesn’t just come out of nowhere , something like that. “

Barnes’ wife and children had just moved into the Oshtemo Township apartment complex west of South Drake Road, and had never met Roberson’s family until the day of the shooting, Garrity said.

According to Fuller, she and Roberson had lived there with their children for five years. Fuller said they had never seen Barnes before either.

Fuller said during the July hearing that she was contacted on the afternoon of the incident by her 13-year-old daughter. She said her daughter called her after a fight broke out during a football game involving Barnes’ 13-year-old daughter and other children from both families.

Barnes, according to his arrest affidavit, claimed his daughter told him Roberson hit her as he tried to end the fight. Additionally, Garrity told MLive that Barnes’ daughter’s bloody hair was found at the site of the original altercation.

Fuller said Roberson never punched or pushed Barnes’ daughter, but helped defuse the situation and separate the parties. She also said police were called after the afternoon scuffle as the argument escalated and was “over the line.”

Later that evening, she said, Barnes’ daughter used Facebook Messenger’s audio call feature to contact her daughter. Barnes called and told him to get Roberson out to discuss the case, Fuller said.

Fuller said she came down to the parking lot to speak to Barnes, but Roberson didn’t join her at first. When she arrived, she said, Barnes asked where the man who “laid hands on my daughter” was.

Fuller said she tried to explain what had happened and Barnes became aggressive. The two adults started yelling at each other, she said. Fuller said Barnes then intentionally pushed his own daughter into his, then the kids started fighting again, and Barnes’ son punched his daughter.

Fuller said she told Barnes “it doesn’t have to be like this” and then Roberson went downstairs and he and Barnes started arguing. Roberson denied touching Barnes’ daughter, she said, then told her family to go back inside.

Fuller testified that she and Roberson – and other family members who were present – started walking towards the house when she heard gunshots and they all started running.

She said she turned around and saw her fiance, who she said was unarmed, fall to the ground. Then Barnes walked up to him, stood over him and shot him in the head again, Fuller said.

Barnes is being held without bail pending trial.

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