Two Omaha men will be tried in the death of a teenage mother who, authorities said, was an innocent victim caught in a gang shooting.
Tracey Wooten, 18, and Tristian Rodriquez-Shelly, 22, will each be tried on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of Devina Johnson. The 17-year-old mother of a toddler was shot last August near 36th and Ames Avenues.
“Miss Johnson was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire,'' Deputy Douglas County Attorney Stephanie Shearer said Monday in Douglas County Court.
Shearer said Johnson was in the line of fire as Wooten and Rodriquez-Shelly, alleged to be members of the Bloods gang, opened fire on at least one member of the rival Crips gang.
Omaha Police Sgt. Don Ficenec testified that Damonte Jackson drove Wooten and Rodriquez-Shelly in a minivan to a location near the scene of the shooting. Jackson, who was not charged in the case, told detectives he didn't witness the shooting, but afterward saw Wooten and Rodriquez-Shelly dump two semiautomatic 9 mm handguns behind a rock by a nearby detached garage.
The three men fled in the van, which was identified by a witness. Jackson told detectives that Wooten reported firing three shots and Rodriquez-Shelly said his handgun jammed. Ficenec said four shell casings were found near the scene.
The two handguns thought to have been used in the shooting have not been recovered. However, Rodriquez-Shelly's DNA was found on a backpack that contained a .22-caliber handgun, Ficenec said. The handgun, located at an apartment, had been stolen from a burglarized Arkansas pawnshop in 2009.
At the time of the shooting, Johnson was sitting in a friend's car on the driver's side. Prosecutors said she was near 36th and Ames Avenues to pick up Riley Griffey to run some errands.
Rodriquez-Shelly was firing at Griffey, who had just stepped outside his home, when Johnson was hit with one shot in the torso, Ficenec said. Griffey allegedly has ties to the Crips gang.
Shearer said Johnson was not a gang member but had acquaintances in both the Crips and Bloods.
Johnson had a 2-year-old daughter and was on track to graduate from Benson High School. She had no criminal record other than a misdemeanor charge filed last August.
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