Kamiel Houston-Zizi first spotted the man in the hooded sweatshirt just after sunrise on April 9, 2012. The way he pedaled past her day-care provider’s Brooklyn Park home after she had dropped off her son gave her a queasy feeling.
More than a year later, Houston said from a witness stand Tuesday that she was nearly certain that Eddie Mosley, the man in a black suit sitting just feet from her, was the same person she saw before she returned to the house and found day-care provider DeLois Brown and her parents shot in the head.
“I immediately recognized him,” Houston testified. “I’m 98 percent sure.”
Houston’s identification of Mosley as the person she had seen before the killings was unexpected by both sides on the second day of his trial in Hennepin County court. He is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of DeLois Brown, 59, and her parents, James Bolden Sr., 83, and Clover Bolden, 81.
Mosley stared at Houston and shook his head when she made the identification over defense attorney Travis Keil’s protests. Keil requested a break in the proceedings to research case law and possibly hire an expert on eyewitness identification. He argued that his client was receiving an unfair trial because the defense was not told in advance that Houston would identify Mosley, investigators never showed Houston a photographic lineup, and she could have recognized his photo in media coverage of the case.
“How convenient,” Keil said. “Obviously, this is a curveball.”
Prosecutor Darren Borg countered that Houston had begun crying hysterically during a courtroom break Tuesday morning because she recognized Mosley as the man she had seen the morning of the slayings.
Judge Toddrick Barnette ruled that Houston could identify Mosley from the stand and said that if Keil provided case law proving it shouldn’t be allowed, Barnette would not consider it as evidence.
Barnette, who is hearing the case instead of a jury, expressed puzzlement as to why Houston was never shown a photo lineup but told Keil “that’s fair game for cross-examination.”
Under questioning by Keil, Houston maintained that she had never seen Mosley’s photo in news reports. Asked why she told detectives a year ago there was an 80-20 chance that she could pick the man she saw out of a lineup, and why she was now nearly certain Mosley was the man she saw that day, Houston was steadfast.
“I looked for this person in Brooklyn Park for months,” she replied, adding that she examined the face of every dark-skinned man she saw. “I was able to walk into court today and in two seconds I knew it was him.”
Prosecutors allege that Mosley drove from St. Louis to Minnesota to kill a 15-year-old relative he was charged with sexually assaulting in Wright County and to kill Brown because she would be a witness. They said he expected to find the teenager in Brown’s house that morning.
Keil maintains that Mosley had no motive to kill the victims and that evidence shows the defendant was in St. Louis too soon after the crimes to have committed them.
Tuesday morning, Houston recounted the day she dropped her 4-year-old son off at Brown’s home day care, at about 6:15 a.m. She said she pulled away and saw a man on a bicycle nearly turn into the driveway, then veer in the opposite direction after spotting her. After she drove off, she saw him double back toward the Brown home. She testified that she immediately felt sick to her stomach and called Brown, who answered the phone.
“I heard a commotion and at the same time I heard ‘Hey you, stop!’ and the phone went dead.”
Panicking, she drove back to the house, where she saw the bike lying in front of the garage. She called 911, and while on the phone with a dispatcher saw the man run out of the home and pedal away frantically while holding something in his left hand, she said. She followed him briefly, then returned to the house and went inside.
“Mrs. Brown? Mrs. Brown?” she cried in a 911 tape played in the courtroom. Houston remained on the line with a dispatcher as she walked through the house and found her son safe downstairs. She then made her way to an upstairs bedroom.
“No! No!” she cried on the tape. “They’re dead! They’re in the bed! There’s blood all over!”
Houston laid her head on her arms and sobbed on the stand as the recording played. Mosley watched her closely.
Houston testified that her son, who was unharmed, has since spoken rarely of what he heard that morning. A few days after the killings, he told her: “A bad man came into the house and I heard a thump. And then you came back to save me, Mommy.”
As recently as a month ago, he mentioned it again.
“He said he heard a bad man come to the door and he heard Mrs. Brown say something, then ‘Boom boom boom,’ ” Houston testified. “ ‘They’re all dead, Mommy, they’re dead.’ ”
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday morning.