Charleston Wells testifies in his murder trial

Updated: May. 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - In a span of three hours, jurors in the Charleston Wells murder trial heard conflicting accounts from two teenaged co-defendants and sometimes tearful testimony from the wife of Mike Gilotti, the Iraq War veteran fatally shot in the early morning hours of January 5, 2016.

Wells, the first of four defendants to stand trial, blamed co-defendant and fellow M-Tre gang member Ahmad Johnson for fatally shooting Gilotti in the back in his Lake Cyrus driveway.

Wells testified Johnson and co-defendant Darrian Bryant had guns and intended to rob Gilotti when they saw him walk out of his home shortly before 5 a.m. to go to a workout.

Wells said he, Johnson, Bryant, and De'ron Lucas were in a stolen pickup truck "checking cars" to steal items. They arrived at the Hoover neighborhood after stealing the truck in a Tuscaloosa neighborhood.

Wells told jurors he "did not want to rob that man" and watched the confrontation from the truck. He said after the shooting he asked Johnson "why did you shoot that man?"

"He told me he would 'shoot me too if I didn't shut the ---- up," Wells testified.

Earlier in the afternoon, Bryant, also 17, testified for the state that it was Wells who exited the truck, asked Gilotti for directions and then "upped his gun."

"He [Gilotti] ran ... and Charleston chased him and shot him," Wells testified.

"He was screaming 'help me,'" Bryant told the jury.

Defense attorney Tom Mesereau challenged Bryant's presence at the trial, asking if he was testifying in hopes of pleading not guilty next week and getting juvenile offender status for his testimony.

"I ain't got no deal. I'm doing this because I want to," Bryant responded.

During testimony, Bryant also told Heather Gilotti, the victim's wife, he was "sorry for her loss."

"I'm sorry my friend shot your husband. I hope you can move forward with your life," Bryant said as Mrs. Gilotti sat on the front row in the courtroom.

After Bryant's testimony, Heather Gilotti provided an account of what she heard and found that morning.

After leaving for his workout, Mrs. Gilotti heard a noise she described as a "crack," then heard her husband shouting for her outside, saying he had been shot.

When she opened the door, she said the Iraq War tank commander was bent over, gasping for air.

Gilotti said her husband fell onto her and landed on his face.

She said his last words were "God forgive me for my sins."

"You're OK," Mrs. Gilotti said. "It's a clean shot, you're going to be OK."

She tried to perform CPR and described hearing a "gurgling" sound from her husband.

Gilotti also recalled telling her 5-year-old son, who was calling for his dad in the hallway of their house, to go away.

The defense does not plan to call any other witnesses. Closing arguments could take place Tuesday.

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