Murder Trial Begins in Shooting Death of Innocent 13-Year-Old Caught in Middle of Gunfight

A murder trial is underway in the shooting death of an innocent 13-year-old caught in the middle of a gunfight, during a particularly violent summer in Dallas.

A murder trial is underway in the shooting death of an innocent 13-year-old caught in the middle of a gunfight, during a particularly violent summer in Dallas.

Datrail Clayton, 24, is charged with murder in the June 2019 shooting death of Malik Tyler.

Tyler became the fourth teenager killed in Dallas in a five-day span.

Clayton’s defense argues the shooting was in self-defense and that Clayton did not intend to kill the child.

Tyler’s friends who were with the teen the day he was shot took the stand in a Dallas County courtroom on Wednesday afternoon.

The two had been excited about the last day of school and walked to the corner store along Bruton Road to buy snacks after playing football.

Surveillance video captured the teens smiling and Tyler dancing inside the store.

But just as the trio began walking out of the parking lot toward their apartment complex, surveillance video shows shots ringing out.

The initial shots were reportedly fired from a car driving down Bruton Road, according to prosecutors and surveillance video shown to the jury.

Several people who had been standing outside the front door to the store can be seen ducking and running for cover.

Prosecutors accused Datrail Clayton, who was reportedly inside a car parked near the store’s entrance, of getting out of the car, running over toward a fence and opening fire in the direction of both the cars speeding away.

Tyler and another teen are seen on video running away in the direction as the second volley of shots, prosecutors contend.

Clayton is accused of hitting the 13-year-old in the upper right side of his back.

His friend testified Tyler did not initially realize he’d been shot, until they got to their apartment complex and Tyler asked his friend if he’d been shot lifting his bloody t-shirt.

Jurors also heard from the apartment’s security guard on duty who became emotional while listening to the 911 call made as he tried to save the child.

Michael Dukes said Tyler told him his back ‘burned.’

“I remember flipping Malik over and actually seeing the hole that he was hit, and I couldn’t do anything,” said Dukes.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Paul Johnson told the jury the state will not be able to prove the bullet was from his client’s gun. Johnson also contents Clayton did not commit murder because he ‘did not intend to kill’ Tyler and that the shooting itself was in self-defense.

“[Clayton] was trying to shoot the person that was shooting bullets indiscriminately in the direction of Datrail Clayton and he had a right to defend himself from that,” said Johnson.

The defense argues that, at best, Clayton was reckless or negligent.

A man who admits to riding in the car that initiated the drive-by shooting also took the stand after being subpoenaed.

Calvin Nelson Jr. of East Texas testified that his friend suddenly pulled out a gun and started shooting toward the convenience store but does not know why.

There was a long pause during Nelson’s testimony after Clayton’s defense called for a mistrial accusing the prosecutor of leading the witness to speculate about a portion of the video.

The trial proceeded after Judge Lela Lawrence Mays met with the attorneys privately.

If convicted of murder, the 24-year-old faces five to life years in prison with the possibility of parole.

Testimony continues Thursday.

Contact Us