Tonuela Hill and her younger brother, Marquise Powell, stopped at the Royal Farms on Washington Boulevard across from Carroll Park in Baltimore to get some gas and chicken.

It was after 3 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2022. Hill had thrown a Halloween party at her home, she testified, and a lot of people went out afterward to a bar. She said she and her brother were being a little loud and joking inside the convenience store — that was just their character — and ordered food and searched for snacks.

When Hill walked over to the bathroom, it was not open. She said she went to ask a cashier about it. That’s when, she said, a security guard came out of nowhere and told her that it was locked.

Hill left the store, but she said her brother went back inside to buy soda.

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She testified that she saw him arguing with the security guard, so she grabbed and dragged her brother into the space between the front door and the entrance of the store. The security guard, she said, continued to point a gun at them during the dispute. Then the security guard pulled the trigger.

“She just shot him,” Hill testified in the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse. “I couldn’t move. I was stuck.”

Her brother was taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland, where he died six days after the shooting. He was 26.

Hill was one of four witnesses who testified on Tuesday as prosecutors presented their case against Kanisha Spence, 44, of Poppleton, who is standing trial this week in Baltimore Circuit Court on charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. She was employed at the time as a security guard at Maximum Protective Services in Catonsville. The killing was one of several high-profile shootings that spurred legislative action.

Prosecutors rested their case just before 3 p.m., and the defense is expected to call witnesses on Wednesday. Circuit Judge Kendra Y. Ausby is presiding over the trial.

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In his opening statement, Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Galey said Spence antagonized and riled up Powell, looking an excuse to fire her weapon because she was not going to be disrespected.

Spence, he said, repeatedly pointed her gun on the morning of the shooting.

“Let me be clear,” Galey said. “This case is about the execution of Marquise Powell.”

Galey noted that the shooting was captured on surveillance video. He said there was no other logical explanation for what happened.

But Roya Hanna, Spence’s attorney, alleged that Powell had tucked a gun into his waistband and contended that her client shot in self-defense.

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Powell, she said, decided to act out because the bathroom was closed.

Hanna noted that her client is a mother of two who had been working a double shift that started at noon. Spence, she said, did not know Powell.

At one point, the defense attorney said, Powell told Spence, “You don’t know who I am, and I can take your gun.” He later remarked, “The next time I see you, there’s going to be problems,” Hanna said.

Prosecutors, she said, have to disprove that her client acted in self-defense.

“She didn’t intend to kill him,” Hanna said. “She intended to stop him from hurting her.”

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On cross-examination, Hill testified that she went to the Baltimore Police Department several days after the shooting with Ronald Richardson, an attorney at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore, and is suing various parties including Royal Farms and Maximum Protective Services for more than $1 million. She told investigators that her brother had been acting crazy that morning.

But Hill said on redirect examination that her family did not go to Royal Farms that morning in hopes of eventually filing a lawsuit. Powell, she said, never touched Spence.

“Was he ever able to hurt the defendant?” Galey asked.

“No,” Hill replied.

Powell’s significant other, Nikita Shaw, testified that she initially stayed in the car but went inside the Royal Farms after she saw her partner arguing with the security guard.

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Spence, she said, pointed her gun at both of them.

Shaw testified that she kept trying to get Powell out of the store. When Hill arrived, she said, they were able to move him into the area between the front door and entrance of the store. That’s where he was shot.

“The lady opened up the door and shot him,” Shaw testified. “I can’t understand, for the life of me.”

Earlier, Dr. Melissa Brassell, an assistant medical examiner at the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, testified that she performed an autopsy on Powell.

The cause of death was complications of a gunshot wound to the head and neck, Brassell said. The manner of death, she said, was homicide.

Baltimore Police Detective Marcus Smothers testified that law enforcement was called to the convenience store for a “serious shooting incident.” He said he got there after 4 a.m.

Prosecutors played for the jury a phone call that Spence made to 911 and later showed the panel surveillance video of the shooting. In the call, Spence calmly told a dispatcher that a man came toward her and posed a threat.

She communicated that the man was bleeding but alert. As Spence talked on the phone, a woman could be heard screaming in the background.

Police reported they recovered a Glock 17, three magazines, pepper spray and handcuffs on Spence’s belt as well as ammunition.

Smothers testified on cross-examination that Spence was “pretty cooperative” and gave a full statement at the Homicide Unit.

Spence, he said, also granted permission for police to search her cellphone and body camera. But Smothers said investigators were unable to recover any video off the device.

Smothers said it appeared to him that Spence did not have much training. He later gave his impressions about her demeanor.

“She was pretty calm,” Smothers testified. “I mean, she wasn’t panicked.”

dylan.segelbaum@thebaltimorebanner.com

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