One woman’s control and obsession led to the shooting death of a Birmingham man who had just celebrated his birthday with the woman, Jefferson County prosecutors said in opening statements on Wednesday. a capital murder trial.
The suspect, Quendarius Reed, 30, interrupted the trial on Wednesday evening to plead guilty to a reduced felony murder charge, escaping the possibility of a death sentence if convicted. The plea was released around 5 p.m. on the first day of testimony, and Reed will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Reed was on trial for the August 13, 2016, shooting death of 24-year-old Joshua Aaron Jamal Lewis. The shooting took place at 1:06 a.m. that Saturday, and Lewis was pronounced dead minutes later on the bed of his apartment in the 7700 block of Fourth Avenue South.
Reed was on the run for four months before his surrender in December 2016. He has been held without bond since then.
After two days of jury selection, Reed’s trial began on Wednesday morning. At the end of the day, prosecutors said, the defense asked to plead a life sentence for murder. Prosecutors met with Lewis’ family and after deliberation, the family agreed.
Jefferson County deputy prosecutors Shawn Allen and Neal Zarzour are continuing the case. Lawyers Joseph Shores and Brock Brett represent Reed. Circuit judge Shanta Craig Owens presided.
âWe are happy the family has closed,â Allen said. “Neal and I were both prepared to keep moving forward in the hope of a death sentence, but we understand and do not disagree with the family who want to accept the call to life.”
In his opening statements, Zarzour described what he said was Reed’s obsession with a woman named Jazmirra Hasan. Although the two shared a child, they were no longer together in 2016 and Reed couldn’t accept it, he said. So, he stalked and harassed Hasan, and eventually tracked her down to Lewis’s apartment, where Reed broke into and shot Lewis.
âControl, obsession, escalation – that’s what it’s all about in this case. This defendant wanted to control the life of Jazmirra Hasan, ” Zarzour said. âHe acted obsessed with her, constantly calling her, texting her, following her, showing up at her house unexpectedly, uninvited. This obsessive behavior eventually degenerated into murder in the wee hours of the morning of August 13, 2016. â
Shores, however, said the jury should take a close look at Hasan’s testimony.
âThe state will not meet its burden beyond a reasonable doubt. The state will ask you to convict a man of capital murder based on the testimony of an uncooperative and unreliable witness, Jazmirra Hasan, ” Shores said. “Your vote should be not guilty.”
Zarzour told the jury that Reed couldn’t handle Hasan’s rejection. “Jazmirra had no intention of getting back with him and he couldn’t accept it,” he said. “He wanted to be with her, and she wouldn’t and he couldn’t accept her.”
On June 25, 2016, according to Zarzour, Hasan called Birmingham police after Reed showed up at his apartment and an argument ensued over their relationship. âFortunately, no one was injured, but Jazmirra felt it was necessary to involve the police. She did the right thing, “he said.” She documented it and that would unfortunately be a harbinger of things to come. “
On July 31, 2016, Hasan called the police again when Reed showed up unexpectedly and uninvited at her home, Zarzour said. “He starts talking crazy, discussing the relationship and snatches her purse,” the prosecutor said. Reed fled the apartment, taking Hasan’s phone and keys.
Fearful, Zarzour said, Hasan spent the night at a relative’s house and Reed eventually returned his phone to him through a relative.
The next day, Hasan and his sister returned to Hasan’s apartment to take a shower and change her clothes. Hasan’s roommate was sleeping in another room.
Hasan took a shower and was about to get dressed when his sister shouted, âHe’s in the house,â Zarzour said. They determined that Reed entered the house and hid under his bed when they arrived. Zarzour said he grabbed his phone and ran away again. Once again, Birmingham police came and took a report.
Over the next two weeks, Zarzour said, the evidence would show that Reed continually called and texted Hasan, wanting to know where she was and what she was doing. âThis worsening behavior will unfortunately end in the early morning hours of August 13, 2016,â he said.
On Friday August 12, Hasan worked late at the beauty salon where she worked. Once she left work, she headed to Lewis’ apartment to celebrate her birthday, which was August 11. She stopped at a liquor store, then drove to Lewis’ home. The two had been good friends for several years, but Hasan said they never had a romantic relationship.
Hasan parked near the stairwell that led to Lewis’s second floor unit. Hasan and Lewis had a few drinks and visited. While she was there, Zarzour said, Reed kept calling Hasan. She ignored the calls but finally answered when he persisted.
âOf course he wanted to know where she was,â Zarzour said. “She didn’t tell him,” and hung up the phone.
The nature of the calls frightened Hasan, the prosecutor said. “She made the decision to leave,” he said. âShe wasn’t looking to involve Josh in any of this. She didn’t think the accused knew where Josh lived, but couldn’t be sure she hadn’t been followed.
When she unlocked the door to leave, Zarzour said testimony and evidence would show Reed was on the other side. âThis defendant had apparently stalked her in this area. He had come to this apartment complex, he found his car in the parking lot and he found out which apartment it was in, ” he said. âHe was standing in the doorway with a gun and a knife. “
“When she opens this door, this defendant immediately breaks into this apartment, with such force that he throws Jazmirra to the ground,” Zarzour said. “He crosses the threshold, is inside and Jazmirra hears him say something like, ‘Yeah, what now? “
Shots then broke out. Authorities said Reed fired four shots and Lewis fired three in return.
Reed runs away. Lewis was shot in the right arm and in the left arm. The bullet in his left arm passed through his arm and into his chest, hitting his heart and other vital organs.
Lewis crawled to his room and Hasan slammed the door and called 911.
“She immediately told the police who did this and what happened,” Zarzour said. “She gives them her name – Quendarius Reed.”
Shores, in his opening remarks, told jurors that he wanted them to remember the oft-heard phrase: “For you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“The truth that you will find out together on the basis of the evidence and the lack of evidence is that the state will not do its job, the police have not done their job, there will be no proof beyond a doubt. reasonable that Quendarius Reed is guilty of capital murder, ” Shore said.
He told the jury that they would hear from Hasan that she was afraid of Reed and that he had harassed her. He said she would also testify on the Events Channel that night.
âPay close attention to what she says and how she says it and if what she says makes sense,â Shores said. “I will submit to you that you will learn that his description, his behavior that night makes no sense.”
Hasan, whose child with Reed is now 9, has since left the state. She testified for over an hour on Wednesday, although she was visibly shaken by the ordeal and rarely gave more than a word of answers. At one point, the jury had to be sent out of the room as it was composing, and a family member was allowed to come to the witness stand to comfort her.
His tense and seemingly reluctant testimony during questioning of Prosecutor Allen confirmed what Zarzour said in his opening statements. His call to 911 during the fatal shooting was also played in court, but without the presence of the jury. It was an emotional recording, in which Hasan repeatedly repeated âJoshâ and âstand tallâ to Lewis, who could be heard breathlessly.
Lewis’s family cried during the recording.
When questioned by Allen, Hasan was asked if Reed had tried to convince her not to testify against him. When Hasan didn’t answer, Allen made a taped phone call from prison to Hasan in which Reed said, “You know I need you now, don’t you?” and “I can count on you, can’t I?”
Hasan told her that she would go to jail if she did not comply with the subpoena.