Man accused of killing three, injuring three in Somers House shooting testifies in court | Crime & Courts

The Kenosha man, who is accused of killing three men and injuring three others at the Somers House tavern last April, took the stand in his defense on Friday afternoon of the fifth day of the trial.

Rakayo Vinson, 25, is charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the shootings of Cedric Gaston, Atkeem Stevenson and Kevin Donaldson, along with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide for shooting three others at the tavern. 1548 Sheridan Road, in Somers, in the early hours of April 18th.

Each count carries a mandatory life sentence.

Just a day after firing his attorney Donald Bielski and refusing to attend the hearing before Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder, Vinson returned Friday morning with Bielski at the defense table.

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Due to the unusual circumstances early in the day on Friday, Schroeder told the jury the case would not be in their hands until Tuesday morning. They were ordered Friday afternoon not to discuss the case with anyone beforehand. Because of the holidays of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will not have a court session Monday.

Events leading up to the shooting

On April 18, Vinson was reportedly separated from 22-year-old Donaldson after getting into a fight that left Vinson with a bloody face. The fight reportedly started after Vinson delivered a shoulder bump in the crowded bar. Donaldson was kicked out of the bar along with Gaston, 24, and Stevenson, 26.

In the moments after the fight, Vinson shot the men in anger because they “disrespected you (Vinson) by fighting you,” Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley told the court.

While on the witness stand, Vinson testified that he was with a cousin at a Racine County residence and they watched a fight on TV before going to Somers House for fun.

At the tavern, Vinson claimed he accidentally bumped into someone and was subjected to “a barrage of punches” from other patrons “from multiple directions.”

“I backed away because my nose was bleeding,” he testified. Vinson also claimed he couldn’t see who was all beating him and lost track of his cousin and his bearings in the confusion. He said he didn’t leave immediately because he was looking for his cousin.

After Vinson was separated from the men and moved to the adjacent tavern’s outdoor patio to cool off, Vinson said Gaston and Stevenson approached him aggressively. He identified the two as the men with whom he had recently gotten into an altercation.

Vinson claimed Gaston was reaching into a pocket for a firearm and had to fire first to protect himself.

“I thought it was a gun,” Vinson said.

Vinson also claimed he only fired four shots on the patio and then jumped a railing to “get out of harm’s way.” Outside the front entrance of the tavern, Vinson said he shot Donaldson because he also had a gun and Vinson feared for his life.

inconsistencies underlined

Graveley peppered Vinson with questions and tried to poke holes in his testimony.

After Vinson was found in the basement of a home in Mount Pleasant a few hours after the shooting, he was questioned by detectives from the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department.

Graveley said Vinson never claimed in the transcripts of the hours-long interview with detectives that he feared for his life.

Vinson reportedly told detectives his face was injured at a house, not the tavern. Graveley also questioned why Vinson had never told the detectives he was concerned Gaston had a firearm. He said no such gun had ever been recovered by investigators and that no one else had fired a gun at the bar, which is popular with young people.

“In the three and a half to four hours you’ve been speaking to officers, have you ever told them that a person walked up to you on that porch and you thought they had a gun?” Graveley asked.

“No,” Vinson replied.

“You never told the detectives anything about having to defend yourself against other people you thought had a gun on that porch during those three and a half to four hours, did you?” Graveley asked.

“That’s right,” Vinson replied.

Graveley also asked Vinson what happened to his own firearm, which was never found, why the pants Vinson was wearing that night were later burned, and why he threw away his smartphone after the incident. He also said Vinson told investigators that someone else could have used his ID who looks like him and shot the men. In surveillance video played for the jury, Vinson’s cousin is within range of Vinson.

“You lied to the officers, right?” Gravely said.

“That’s right,” Vinson replied.

Vinson told the court he “don’t remember what happened to (the gun)” and “don’t know” who set fire to his pants, which may have contained evidence.

play victim

Towards the end of his questioning on Friday, Graveley asked Vinson why his uncle recommended he play the victim and defend himself during a phone call in December.

“He said to you, ‘Pretend to be a victim, you can’t worry about how (eloquently) you will be viewed. You gotta show you’re a victim,'” Graveley said, adding, “There was an affirmative response from (Vinson).”

Graveley said Vinson was “putting on a drama show for this jury and pretending you’re a victim, just like you were advised to.”

As investigators continued to work at the scene of a shooting at Somers House Tavern, neighbors reacted with shock, sadness and concern to the shooting, which claimed three lives.

IN PHOTOS: Rakayo Vinson removed from the courtroom

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

Rakayo Vinson, center, is removed from the courtroom and escorted past the victims’ families during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse. Vinson was removed during his trial for disturbing outbursts.


SEAN KRAJACIC, Kenosha News

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely is trying to calm the victims’ families as Rakayo Vinson is escorted out of the courtroom through the gallery at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday. Vinson was removed from the courtroom due to disruptive outbursts and had to go through the gallery because the jury occupied the exit that an incarcerated defendant would normally take.


SEAN KRAJACIC Photos, Kenosha News

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Judge Bruce Schroeder is considering whether Rakayo Vinson could be removed from the courtroom during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday, January 13, 2022. Vinson delayed proceedings with disturbing outbursts during his trial.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

Rakayo Vinson is standing up to be removed from court over his outbursts during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

Rakayo Vinson (right) argues with Judge Bruce Schroeder (not pictured) while his attorney Donald Bielski (left) watches Vinson’s trial Thursday at the Kenosha County Courthouse. Vinson has been asking all week for Bielski to be removed as his attorney.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Rakayo Vinson argues with Judge Bruce Schroeder over his advice during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse Thursday, January 13, 2022. The jury was forced to leave the room when Judge Schroeder decided to remove Vinson for his disturbing outbursts.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Attorney Donald Bielski, center, sits next to an empty chair occupied by Rakayo Vinson at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday, January 13, 2022. Vinson was removed from the courtroom for constant, disruptive outbursts during his trial.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Attorney Donald Bielski looks at the state table after Rakayo Vinson was removed for disturbing flare-ups during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse Thursday, January 13, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

VINSON TRIAL Day 4

Judge Bruce Schroeder is trying to calm Rakayo Vinson during his trial Thursday at the Kenosha County Courthouse.


SEAN KRAJACIC, Kenosha News

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Rakayo Vinson, center, argues with Judge Bruce Schroeder, not pictured, while Donald Bielski, center, looks on at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday, January 13, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

Rakayo Vinson (right) argues with Judge Bruce Schroeder (not pictured) while Donald Bielski (left) looks on at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday, January 13, 2022.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

VINSON TRIAL

VINSON TRIAL

District Attorney Michael Graveley, left, and Rakayo Vinson’s former attorney Donald Bielski await the retrial after Vinson was removed from the courtroom at the Kenosha County Courthouse on Thursday, January 13, 2022. Vinson was removed during his trial for disturbing outbursts.


SEAN KRAJACIC Kenosha news

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