Duluth murder trial reveals connections between victim, suspects
Prosecutors on Thursday moved to establish the connection between Duluth shooting victim William Grahek and the people allegedly responsible for his death.
Testimony on the third day of Noah Anthony Charles King’s trial revealed that Grahek had met with Xavier Alfred Haywood, the man who allegedly planned the attempted heist of a safe containing drugs and cash from his apartment, about two months before the Duluth college student was fatally shot.
The court also heard from the man whose stolen gun allegedly was used in the commision of the crime.
Grahek met Haywood over drugs
Ethan Vange, 23, testified that he introduced Haywood to Grahek around December 2016.
Vange and Grahek had met a few years prior, when they both attended the College of St. Scholastica, and had become friendly over the years. Vange said Haywood, who went by the name “Dave,” was an acquaintance from whom he had purchased controlled substances.
“Dave was looking for molly,” Vange testified, referencing the party drug also known as MDMA. “I knew Will was looking for someone new in the Duluth area to buy marijuana from. Dave sold marijuana and Molly, so I introduced them at Will’s house.”
Vange recalled Grahek removing a safe from the closet in his basement apartment, producing the substance and weighing out 3.5 grams. He said Haywood paid at least $200.
Vange said he occasionally hung out at Grahek’s residence and on many occasions had seen him sell small quantities of marijuana, molly or, less frequently, LSD. He testified that Grahek always kept the supply in the safe and frequently conducted business in the open with buyers.
He said Haywood was a less reliable dealer, often failing to come through. Vange testified that he did not know of any further contact between the two men after the initial exchange.
Until Thursday, few details had been publicly revealed about the relationship between Grahek and the five suspects in the case or how the alleged attempted robbery was organized.
Defense attorney Briana Perry asked Judge Mark Munger to exclude Vange’s testimony, arguing that it was irrelevant to his King’s alleged role in the case.
The judge, however, sided with prosecutor Jessica Fralich who described Vange as the “sole connection” between Grahek and the defendants, providing the “motive for the entire offense.”
Alleged murder weapon traced
When Fosam Foncham and his roommates returned home early on the morning of Jan. 28, 2017, they discovered their apartment had been ransacked.
Foncham testified that his Glock 9 mm handgun was missing, as were several electronic devices and designer belts, among other items. Foncham still had the firearm’s original paperwork, providing it to police.
Foncham’s then-residence is about four blocks from where alleged shooter Deandre Davenport and co-defendants Noah and Tara Baker were living at the time.
Sgt. Tom Stolee of the Duluth Police Department was supervising the property crimes division in early 2017. In the aftermath of Grahek’s death, Stolee testified, he began researching stolen gun reports from the area and found Foncham’s from a few weeks prior.
The gun with a matching serial number was later recovered in Austin, Minn. Stolee said he also recovered Foncham’s belts from Davenport and Noah Baker. Prosecutors admitted into evidence Facebook photos which Stolee said showed the defendants wearing the stolen goods.
Haywood’s girlfriend, Sage Matheson, testified that she was aware of Davenport stealing a phone from Foncham’s apartment. She recalled that he had gone to a party and “scoped out” the residence in advance.
Foncham, however, said there was never a party at his house. But a few weeks prior to the burglary, he and his roommates had come home to find three people in their residence. He said one, a black male with dreadlocks, made a comment about a party before they left.
Testimony in King’s trial continues Friday.
About the case
Noah Anthony Charles King is standing trial in State District Court in Duluth in connection with William Grahek’s death. One of five defendants to face charges, he is the first to go to trial.
King, 20, is accused of accompanying two other men during an attempted robbery of drugs and cash from Grahek's East Hillside residence, 510 E. 11th St., on Feb. 14, 2017. Grahek, 22, was shot twice, allegedly Deandre Demetrius Davenport, after he refused to comply with their demands.
Prosecutors have alleged that King, Davenport and Noah Duane Baker went to the residence based on information provided by co-defendant Xavier Alfred Haywood. Defense attorneys have framed Grahek’s death as an unintentional act.
King is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of intentional second-degree murder and attempted first-degree aggravated robbery. If convicted on either murder charge, he would face a mandatory life sentence with potential for parole only after 30 years.
King waived his right to a jury, so the case is being heard by 6th Judicial District Judge Mark Munger. Testimony is expected to conclude by Nov. 16, after which Munger will have up to a week to issue a verdict.