Defense attorney Blake Poole told the jury on Tuesday of the history between his client Marquis Bonds and alleged victim Imam Bilal Ali prior to Bonds being accused of threatening the religious leader.
Attorneys opened Bonds’ trial with statements Tuesday morning to the jury, who will decide multiple counts of aggravated assault, theft by taking, kidnapping and interference with government property.
The indictment alleges the separate assault on Ali and the kidnapping occurred Aug. 22 in Gainesville. Bonds is accused of taking multiple cars, including one with a 1-year-old child inside.
Poole said Bonds’ uncle Adrian Thompson was shot by Joseph Scott Williams in June 2013, and that Williams spoke with Ali shortly after the murder. Williams was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison.
Poole referenced the homicide of Ricko Bledson, 39, a member of Ali’s congregation that was shot Aug. 6.
“The evidence will show that my client was changing cars so often that day, because the word on the street was that he was the one that murdered Ricko,” Poole said.
Police have not named a suspect in Bledson’s death.
Poole’s opening statement claims the government’s case jumped to conclusions and did not review other evidence.
According to police, Bonds allegedly cut sideways across Prior Street in front of Ali and attempted to get a gun out of a bag.
“He says, ‘You’re going to die today. I’m going to smoke your ass,’” Assistant District Attorney Juliet Aldridge said during her opening statement.
Bonds then allegedly made his way to the Friendly Food Mart on Athens Street, where a van was running in the parking lot.
“He leaves Friendly’s in a van that doesn’t belong to him with a 1-year-old child in it,” Aldridge said.
The mother of the child allegedly abducted said she did not want to prosecute Bonds, as the two are related by family. She said she knew Bonds wasn’t going to hurt the child, but told the jury he was acting “spaced out.”
On the stand, Ali said he focused on making sure his family was safe when the incident occurred.
Regarding the Williams shooting, Ali said he told Williams to turn himself in.