Convicted Topeka murderer Christopher Pattillo told jurors Tuesday during a co-defendant’s murder trial he had no idea gunshots were going to be fired from the vehicle he was driving or why the victim would be shot in 2016 in a southeast Topeka neighborhood.
Pattillo was the first witness to be called to testify during the trial of De’Angelo Megle Martinez, 21, of Topeka, who is charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of Brian Wade Miller, criminal discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault and aggravated endangering of a child younger than 18. Tuesday is the second day of the Martinez trial.
The 18-year-old Pattillo, who was clad in a jail jumpsuit and wore handcuffs as he testified in Shawnee County District Court, testified he told three other men in the van he was driving that he was driving to the Miller residence to determine whether there was trouble between he and one of the brothers and to have a fist fight with the brother.
“I didn’t know anybody was going to be shot so I didn’t think I would be in trouble,” Pattillo said.
“I still don’t think I did anything wrong,” Pattillo said at another point, referring to his slaying conviction.
Shots were fired during the second cruise past the Miller home, Pattillo said. In the first drive-by, Pattillo made eye contact with the Millers but no hand gestures were exchanged, he said, although he thought one of the Millers might have a gun because he “grabbed his hip” as though he had a pistol.
During Pattillo’s trial in July, witnesses identified Martinez as the gunman who fired 14 shots from the van driven by Pattillo.
Brian Wade Miller, 20, was killed on April 8, 2016, in the 2000 block of S.E. Echo Ridge.
Lashonda Pattillo, Patillo’s aunt, testified that on the day before the fatal drive-by shooting, her nephew had a run-in with a rival gang member, Blake Miller, the brother of the slaying victim, at the West Ridge Mall shopping center.
As they were about to exit the mall, Blake Miller, said, “It’s Fifth Block,” followed by a racial slur when he spoke to Christopher Pattillo, Lashonda Pattillo said. When she asked Blake Miller what his problem was, he repeated the insult, she said. The two men are black.
Fifth Block is a street gang in Topeka. The statement was intended to insult Pattillo.
On the day of the shooting, Lashonda Pattillo saw her nephew, who was “frantic,” saying that Blake Miller had pulled a gun on him, and that Christopher Pattillo had “doubled back,” which means to drive back around a block and that someone has been shot, Lashonda Pattillo said.
The nephew stayed at his aunt’s residence for two days, and Christopher Pattillo was taken into custody in Wichita in connection with the Topeka drive-by slaying.
When Pattillo testified July 14 during his own jury trial, he said he didn’t intend to shoot anyone when he drove a van past the two Miller brothers. He also denied knowing who fatally shot Brian Miller and repeatedly avoided even speculating who of the four men in the van fired the shots at the victim.
At one point during his own trial, Pattillo testified it was more difficult to shoot someone from a moving vehicle rather than from a standing position.
To demonstrate, the seated Pattillo extended both arms as though aiming an imaginary pistol, moving his arms as though tracking a target while shooting from a moving vehicle.
Jurors in the Pattillo trial convicted him of felony first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm at a residence occupied by a 7-year-old boy, aggravated assault and aggravated endangering of a child younger than 18.
Pattillo is to be sentenced on Oct. 27.
Contact reporter Steve Fry at (785) 295-1206 or @TCJCourtsNCrime on Twitter.