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A second trial is underway for the 2018 murder of Makiyah Wilson

A second trial is underway for the 2018 murder of Makiyah Wilson

A second trial is underway for the 2018 murder of Makiyah Wilson

Pandora Wilson has seen the photos and video of that day: her 10-year-old granddaughter’s shoes strewn on a bloody floor, a stolen black Infiniti ferrying people into a northeast Washington backyard, and a man’s teeth scattered on the ground.

She has seen the videos that prosecutors say were taken after the turf war-style shooting, a sequence of young men illuminated by streetlights smiling and rapping into their cellphone cameras that they were the reason the District’s murder rate was high.

It’s been six years since the particularly violent summer that took her son’s daughter, Makiyah Wilson. One of 34 people shot and killed between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2018, she had just returned from an ice cream truck with her sister outside their home when a bullet pierced her back. Federal prosecutors say masked men indiscriminately fired 50 bullets in 20 seconds, killing her and wounding four others, including her older sister.

As the D.C. Superior Court trial gets underway for the other three of the 11 people charged in the case, Wilson is reliving it all. It’s an act of love he can still give to his granddaughter as the District endures another summer marked by gun violence that leaves more and more victims, especially concentrated in neighborhoods like the one that killed Makiyah.

To Wilson, this is what is owed.

“I’m so stunned, but I have to be here. I have to find out for myself what’s going on,” Wilson, 59, said in an interview. “These police detectives and prosecutors are here fighting for my grandson, so I should be here, too. And this city needs to be here, too. We should all be here.”

Makiyah’s murder shook the public consciousness, prompting calls for action and promises of progress as her family mourned. They mourned when Mayor Muriel E. Bowser declared “Enough is enough” on social media and when the D.C. Council passed stricter gun laws. They mourned when she inspired art and music, and when a street was rededicated in her name. They mourned when six men convicted in her case were sentenced to decades in prison last year.

Wilson sat calmly in the courtroom. During the three-month trial, prosecutors’ witnesses described how friction broke out between rival street gangs in the neighborhood.

No one was specifically targeted at the apartment complex in the 300 block of NE 53rd Street. July 16, 2018, anyone in Clay Terrace neighborhood, prosecutors said.

One of the bullets, fired from an assault rifle, passed through Makiyah’s back and exited through her chest. Wilson listened, at times with tears in his eyes, to testimony from Makiyah’s mother and teenage sister, who held Makiyah’s hand as she lay dying.

Donetta Wilson, Makiyah’s mother, flew back to Washington the first week of the trial in June to tell it all again. Her husband, Michael, Makiyah’s father and Pandora’s son, sat in the courtroom silently as his wife and stepdaughter testified.

A day later, she was back on a plane headed home to Georgia. “I couldn’t stay there for that. I just couldn’t,” she said of the trial in an interview. She has tried to start over, now working as a hairdresser and Uber driver.

She and her husband, Michael, who is the father of her two youngest children and still lives in the Washington area, separated shortly after their daughter’s death.

The family, especially Makiyah’s brother, who was 12 when his younger sister was killed, is still trying to come to terms with the loss, she said: “We didn’t get any therapy after the shooting. We all suffered and are still suffering in our own ways.”

Authorities charged 11 people in Makiyah death. In addition to the six who were convicted last year, two other men were charged with conspiracy in connection with their murder, but convicted of another murder that prosecutors say led to the Makiyah shooting.

During the first trial, security was tightened in the courtroom. Deputy bailiffs had to clear the courtroom during the first hearing of the first two men charged, as relatives of the defendants got into a shouting match with Makiyah’s family.

Emotions have sometimes run high. Last fall, Pandora Wilson stormed out of the courtroom when a lawyer for one of the convicted men pleaded for mercy, arguing that his client should not have to die in prison.

“I can’t do this. I just can’t,” he blurted out before walking away.

Extra security has been ordered outside Judge Robert Okun’s courtroom for what is scheduled to be a six-week trial this summer.

Before the jury are now Antonio Murchison, 31, the brother of a man convicted in the case last year and named by prosecutors as one of the shooters, and Mark Price, 29, who authorities say drove the Infiniti loaded with gunmen to Clay Terrace. Both are charged with first-degree murder and numerous counts of weapons possession and conspiracy. Defense attorneys for the two men have argued in court that their clients are wrongly accused and say prosecutors lack direct evidence, including witnesses, linking them to the shooting.

Prosecutors also charged Quanisha L. Ramsuer, 31, with obstruction of justice, alleging that Ramsuer knew the shooters and interacted with them minutes before the shooting but refused to identify the men to authorities. Ramsuer’s attorney, Cary Clennon, told jurors during opening statements that authorities never directly asked his client if she knew the men.

After the first day this time, Pandora Wilson said she already felt mentally and emotionally exhausted.

“I hope I can do this every day again,” he said, “but I don’t know.”

Sitting in the courtroom for the second time has been harder than Wilson imagined. She now suffers from insomnia and mood swings, she said. She is on medical leave from her job as a government clerk because of swollen arthritis. She takes short steps and walks with a limp.

When she returns home to Maryland after the trial, two of her adult children (one of whom lives with her) are waiting for her. They have asked her to stop attending the trial.

“We’re going to remember ‘Kiyah,” Wilson said. “This town is going to remember my granddaughter. No one should have to go through this, not a baby or anyone.”