CHARLESTON -- Murder suspect James Todd Shafer "pulled a gun" and fired it twice while another person was on a 911 call to report a confrontation at his apartment, according to court testimony Wednesday.
Dion Dixon testified during Shafer's jury trial and said he thought he saw someone with a gun during the confrontation but didn't hear any gunshots until minutes later, when Shafer fired.
Dixon was the resident of the apartment at 313 S. 21st St., Mattoon, on June 18, 2016, when the confrontation and shooting led to the death of Ciara Faires. He testified for the prosecution Wednesday during questioning by Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower.
Shafer, 26, reportedly was inside the apartment with Dixon when the confrontation took place and allegedly fired two shots at its door. Faires, who was outside, was hit by one shot during the incident and died later that day.
Dixon appeared in court Wednesday in the custody of Coles County sheriff's deputies. Authorities brought him to Coles County from California, where he said he's serving a prison sentence for a carjacking conviction there.
Dixon, who said he received no promises in exchange for his testimony, said Shafer and Faires, who was Shafer's girlfriend, arrived at his apartment shortly before the confrontation and shooting.
However, "within a few minutes I was ready for them to leave" because of their arguing and the late hour, he said. Dixon said Shafer pushed Faires out the door and locked it, but before he could tell Shafer to leave, Dixon heard something to make him think others were also outside.
He said he saw other people in addition to Faires outside the apartment and one of them banged on the door. Dixon said he thought that person had a gun but didn't hear any shots at that point.
Dixon said "Todd pulled out a gun" and shot toward the door when Dixon called 911 and then Shafer fired a second shot while Dixon was talking with the emergency dispatcher.
He described the confrontation that also reportedly involved Shawn D. Adamson, 35, known as "Puff." Adamson was trying to retrieve a gun he gave Shafer to use in a robbery and might have fired a shot outside the apartment, according to previous testimony.
During cross examination, Public Defender Anthony Ortega tried to show inconsistencies between Dixon's testimony and what he told police after the shooting.
Ortega asked Dixon if his earlier statement was that he heard four shots outside the apartment and saw that gun's muzzle flash. Dixon replied that he didn't remember.
Shafer is accused of firing the fatal shot to Faires, who was 23, and is facing charges of first-degree murder and other offenses. Adamson is also charged with murder and other offenses, alleging he initiated the incident that led to Faires' death, and is scheduled for trial starting March 5.
Also testifying Wednesday was Kevin W. Johnson, 40, who was one of two men who authorities said went to the apartment at Adamson's request or instructions.
Johnson said his testimony was a condition of a plea agreement that included his guilty plea to lesser charges in connection with the incident and a sentence of probation.
Johnson did say Adamson wanted him to meet at the apartment because of "some confusion" about Shafer having something that belonged to Adamson.
"I wanted to make sure it didn't escalate," said Johnson, who also said he's friends of both men. "I was not on a mission to find Todd for Puff."
Outside the apartment, Adamson pointed his gun briefly at Faires, Johnson said.
But he added that he heard "what sounded like a gunshot" while Adamson was putting the gun away and the men then ran from the location because "now this becomes a problem."
Johnson said he was about two blocks away when he heard what sounded like more gunshots along with a woman's scream.
The other man accused of being at the scene, Matthew S. Cook, also pleaded guilty to reduced charged, based on what Bower said at the time was a more accurate reflection of his role in the incident.
Also Wednesday, Mattoon police officer Jeff Standard testified that he was one of the first to arrive at the scene and questioned Shafer shortly after it was secured.
Shafer said he had "some issues" with Adamson, whom he blamed for the incident, about backing out of the robbery, Standard stated. He said he thought Shafer went to Dixon's apartment to try to "lay low" because Adamson was looking for him.
Shafer also said he thought five shots were fired from outside the apartment and he returned fire with what he described as "warning shots," Standard also said.
In his opening statement to the jury Wednesday, Bower said trial evidence would show that Shafer gave various versions of what happened. But, he added, Shafer was "consistent with one thing," that he knew Faires was outside the apartment when he fired.
Ortega told the jury that there'll be evidence that Adamson shot at least once while banging on the apartment's door. "Panic ensued" inside the apartment and it was "only later" that Shafer learned that Faires was killed, he said.
The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday (Feb. 22) and is expected to last until at least early next week.
Shafer, who's been jailed since his arrest immediately after the incident, faces a prison sentence of 45 years to life if convicted of the murder charges.