Danesha Northan was on her way back to Baltimore Police Department headquarters in the early morning of Sept. 29, 2023, after processing a crime scene when she spotted a large crowd on South Charles Street near East Cross Street in Federal Hill.

Northan said she thought that there might be a fight. So Northan, a crime laboratory technician, stayed in case she had to call for police.

“Shortly after I stopped,” Northan testified in the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse, “I heard gunshots.”

So Northan called a Signal 13 — a police officer in need of assistance — and ducked down. She said she later spotted a man putting a handgun back in his waistband. And she said she then noticed another man on the ground with apparent gunshot wounds.

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The man, Ryan Demby, an off-duty Howard County sheriff’s deputy, was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. He was 23.

Northan was one of nine witnesses who testified on Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court as prosecutors began presenting their case against the man who’s standing trial in the deadly shooting. Jewel Crowder, 41, of Baltimore, is charged with first-degree murder, use of a handgun during the commission of a crime of violence and reckless endangerment.

Circuit Judge Yvette M. Bryant is presiding over the trial, which is set to resume on Wednesday.

In her opening statement, Assistant State’s Attorney Manaia Jespersen said it was supposed to be a time of celebration in Baltimore.

The Orioles had just clinched the American League East. But instead, Jespersen said, a man lost his life.

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“We’re here today because of the actions of one person,” Jespersen said. “This is a murder case.”

Crowder, she said, spoke with a bouncer at a bar, waited for Demby to come back and decided to take matters into his own hands.

When Demby was standing with his hands at his side, Jespersen said, Crowder shot him seven times.

Police identified the shooter, raided his home and found a handgun, Jespersen said. Cartridge casings found at the crime scene, she said, were consistent with being fired from that weapon.

But Roland S. Harris IV, Crowder’s attorney, said Demby’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit for driving in Maryland.

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Demby, he said, was thrown out of the bar after getting into a fight and went back two times. He drew a handgun — it was not his service weapon — on people who were unarmed, Harris said.

Crowder, he said, peacefully tried to get Demby to stay away before the shooting.

“He’s drunk. And he’s angry that he got put out of a bar. And his ego is blowing up,” Harris said. “Mr. Demby didn’t get shot because he’s a sheriff.”

Demby’s friend, Jared Phillips, testified that the two were drinking earlier at a bar in Towson.

Phillips said there “just wasn’t the right energy.” So, they decided to go to Federal Hill and went to Wayward Bar & Kitchen.

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Inside the bar, Phillips said, a man headbutted him — so he pushed back. Demby tried to intervene. A fight ensued.

Phillips testified that security kicked him out of the bar. He went back inside. That’s when he said a bouncer pushed him, caused him to fall and punched him on the ground.

Demby, he said, tried to get the bouncer off him. They walked down the street to get away from the situation, Phillips testified.

The bouncers, he said, were “still talking” and “trying to escalate the situation.”

At one point, Phillips testified, they met up with Demby’s older brother, Derran Hankins.

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Phillips said he and Demby walked past the bar again to head to their car. “I just remember seeing Ryan fall,” Phillips testified. “I heard gunshots.”

Baltimore Police respond to a shooting on South Charles Street near East Cross Street in Federal Hill in this photo from Sept. 29, 2023. (Paul Mancano)

Hankins testified that he happened to be in the neighborhood and briefly met up with Demby.

Later, Hankins said, he received an urgent call on FaceTime from his younger brother: “Bro, where you at? I need you.” Demby appeared disheveled, he said, while Phillips looked like he’d gotten beaten up.

So, Hankins said he started moving toward Wayward Bar & Kitchen. He said he noticed that a bouncer was holding a knife, so he took out his own.

Phillips, he said, was trying to hold him back. Demby was behind him.

Meanwhile, Crowder was sitting on a bench and looking forward, Hankins said.

Next, Hankins said, he heard a gunshot and froze. He said he ran, jumped over a gate and called his brother’s name.

When Hankins did not receive a response, he said, he sprinted back to the bar and “saw this coward shooting my brother.”

“What’s up, now?” Crowder said to Demby, Hankins testified.

At one point, Hankins stopped answering questions from Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Stock and started directly addressing Crowder: “You’re a coward.”

When he finished with his testimony, Hankins got up from the witness stand, maintained eye contact with Crowder and left him with parting words.

“One day,” Hankins said to Crowder. “Wherever we at.”