Murder trial underway for man accused of shooting and killing Kareem Smalls in November 2020

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 1:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The first full bit of testimony jurors heard in the courtroom Wednesday came from the lead detective at the time when Kareem Smalls was shot to death.

That detective, now a sergeant with the Savannah Police Department, walked the jury through what he heard and saw from the moment he arrived at the scene at the Kayton Homes development the night of November 23rd, 2020.

The sergeant described seeing shell casings around a van that had crashed into a bus near the intersection of Gwinnett and MLK.

Police say Smalls was shot on Draper Street, and was in the van that crashed.

Jurors also got to see and hear the recorded interview between police and the man on trial for murder, Dyanta Samuels the day after Smalls was murdered.

In that video the officers were asking questions like if Samuels had fired a gun, or been around someone who fired a gun within 24 hours of the interview. Also, they asked him questions about his whereabouts when Smalls was killed, and his connection to a vehicle possibly tied to the alleged murder.

Samuels was actually already booked in the Chatham County Detention Center on drug charges when police charged him with shooting and killing Smalls.

Today in court, jurors got to hear from the state’s final witness, the lead investigator on the case. Sgt. Jacob Schroyer was one of two officers seen on video played for the jury today, an interview of Dyanta Samuels the day after Smalls was killed.

Toward the very end of that interview, Sgt. Schroyer asked Samuels if he had anything to do with the shooting. Samuels said ‘no.’

Samuels’ attorney asked the judge to make a ruling on the murder charges himself instead of letting the jury decide because he doesn’t think there’s enough evidence that links his client to Smalls’ murder for the jury to consider.

“Although there is no direct eyewitness identification, there’s a lot of direct and circumstantial evidence that I think is sufficient to allow the jury to conclude that Mr. Samuels is guilty of that if they want to. It’s up to them I think if you look it all in the light most favorable to the state’s case, that that’s not particularly hard call to send that to the jury,” said Superior Court Judge Benjamin Karpf.

That motion was denied.

Samuels also declined the opportunity to testify on his own behalf.

So tomorrow morning, closing arguments will begin, and the jury is expected to have the case for consideration by the afternoon.

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