Testimony gives insight into bystander's death outside Dowagiac bar

Russell in court Friday // WSBT 22 photo

Self defense or first-degree murder? Now a jury will get to decide.

Rolandis Russell is accused of killing a bystander with an AK-47-style rifle outside of a Dowagiac bar.

Russell was back in court Friday.

The judge ruled there is enough evidence to go to trial on all 8 counts Russell faces.

Today's testimony provided more insight into what led up to Fabian Wesaw's death.

Beeson Street Bar is where Fabian Wesaw took his last breath.

His friends and family called him Jimmy. They filled one side of the courtroom Friday.

Family and friends of his accused killer filled the other.

All to hear some of the first testimony that detailed what happened that night.

Detective Jason Rutkowski interviewed Russell later that day. He says Russell admitted to getting the rifle from his car after a verbal fight with two other men.

When the gun wouldn't initially go off, Rutkowski testified Russell took off on foot.

“Once he got to the BP gas station, he stated he was able to make the firearm function properly,” said Rutkowski.

That's when he says he began shooting.

“He stated during the first initial shots that he fired, he noticed a large white male go down to the ground,” said Rutkowski.

That white male was Jimmy Wesaw.

Pathologist Joyce DeJong says Wesaw was shot once in the back.

“As it passed through the neck, it damaged the left carotid artery,” DeJong testified.

Police say Wesaw was not the target of that gunfire.

Detectives testified that 13 shots were fired.

They said the gun was later discovered under a car in the bar's parking lot.

Russell's attorney says he did not intend to kill Wesaw and that Russell was acting out of self-defense.

“He indicated that what he did was because he was in fear, is that correct?” Russell's attorney asked Rutkowski at one point.

"He did state that he was scared," Rutkowski replied.

“He had more than enough time to sit and deliberate before shooting,” said the prosecutor.

A jury will now decide which argument to believe.

A trial date has not yet been set. Russell pled not guilty to all charges.

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