Jury selected in FIU on-campus stabbing case

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Lawyers selected a jury late Monday in the trial of a former Florida International University student accused of murdering football player Kendall Berry during an on-campus brawl.

Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors say Quentin Wyche committed second-degree murder when he fatally stabbed Berry, a popular tailback, in March 2010. Wyche is claiming self-defense.

Berry, 22, and several football players confronted Wyche outside a campus recreation center on March 25, 2010. Witnesses said Wyche broke away from the scrum toward the building. Several witnesses said Berry ran after him.

A key prosecution witness, Chidinma Orj, an FIU student at the time, told police she saw Wyche fish a pair of scissors out of a backpack, break them apart and run back toward Berry.

“He was just saying stuff like, ‘I’m a get him,’” she initially told Miami-Dade homicide detectives.

Wyche killed Berry, who was unarmed, with a fatal thrust to the heart.

Tensions between the pair had flared earlier in the day when Wyche argued with Berry’s girlfriend, Regina Johnson, who worked for a campus golf cart shuttle-service system.

Witnesses told police that Wyche, a former walk-on football player, threw a cookie or smashed a cookie in the young woman’s face.

His defense attorney argued that Wyche was acting in self-defense as he was ganged up on by a group of football players. But prosecutors argue that Wyche instigated the fatal episode by returning and reengaging Berry.

The proceedings against Wyche, 25, have long been plagued by delays in getting witnesses to court. Many of them were former students and football players from out of town.

In July, prosecutors — faced with a speedy trial demand — dropped the murder charge as a way to avoid trial. The charge was immediately re-filed.

The trial, before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel de la O, is expected to last the rest of the week.

One prominent former player interviewed by detectives in 2010, former FIU star and current Colts receiver TY Hilton, will not be called as a trial witness, a Miami-Dade prosecutor told the judge Monday. Hilton gave a 16-page statement to detectives, but he was not considered a witness of value for the trial.

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