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Trial begins for two of the three suspects in the shooting death of 18-year-old Corey Mumford in Laurel

The trial of two of the three young men accused of shooting and killing 18-year-old Corey Mumford in Laurel in April 2023 began Tuesday.

Sussex County Superior Court Judge Francis Jones is presiding over the trial of 28-year-old Jhalir Henry of Delmar and 29-year-old Donregus Holland of Hurlock, Maryland, both charged with first-degree murder and other crimes.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks. A third person charged in Mumford’s murder, 22-year-old Shyheem Latham-Purnell of Laurel, will be tried separately.

Last year was a particularly violent one for the small town of Laurel in western Sussex County. In 2023, three people were killed and nine people were injured in shootings there. In November, Governor John Carney attended a town hall-style meeting to address the rise in shooting deaths in Laurel.

Laurel's Corey Mumford plays in the 2020 Henlopen Conference championship game.

Laurel’s Corey Mumford plays in the 2020 Henlopen Conference championship game.

So far this year, one person has been killed and four injured in shootings in Laurel.

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What happened on the first day of the trial

Deputy Attorney General Amanda Nyman described the day of Mumford’s murder in her opening argument.

Laurel School District students were on spring break Friday, April 14, she said. Mumford was a senior at Laurel High School, weeks away from graduation.

“No one expected that pleasant spring day to turn out the way it did,” Nyman said. “This murder shocked Corey’s family and the entire community.”

Mumford, a 6-foot-2 basketball player, was walking with friends at the Wexford Village apartment complex when the shooting began, around 2:40 p.m. He was not the intended target, police said, but he was hit nine times, Nyman said during the trial. (Police originally said Mumford was shot eight times.)

Police collected 22 spent shell casings from the scene, Nyman said, which a firearms expert will testify came from three weapons: two .40 calibers and one 9mm. According to Nyman, the bullets collected during the autopsy were from the 9mm.

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“It is clear that only one firearm killed Mumford,” said Henry’s attorney, Patrick Collins. Henry “adamantly and vehemently” denies he was in Wexford Village that day, Collins added.

The case will come down to witness testimony, Collins said, and those witnesses will contradict each other as well as themselves. The three main witnesses also have credibility problems, said Natalie Woloshin, the Dutch lawyer.

Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown.  Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown.

Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown.

There were no working surveillance cameras in Wexford Village on the day of Mumford’s death, Nyman said, but footage from several other places in the city will be entered into evidence.

The motive for the shooting appears to remain unknown.

“There are still questions about why this happened,” Nyman said.

Mumford’s grandmother was the first and only person to testify on the first day of the trial. She said her grandson was at her Gibson Street home the morning of the shooting, hanging out with his cousin. When they left her house shortly after noon, she didn’t ask where they were going. Mumford told her he loved her and that he would see her later, she said.

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Corey Mumford and his parents, Tesha Horsey and Corey Mumford Sr.Corey Mumford and his parents, Tesha Horsey and Corey Mumford Sr.

Corey Mumford and his parents, Tesha Horsey and Corey Mumford Sr.

Later, the grandmother heard gunshots and after a few minutes, Mumford’s cousin came running into the house.

“He said, ‘Mommy, Corey got shot!’ He was screaming and hysterical,” the grandmother said. She wiped away tears as she testified.

Mumford’s parents were also present on the first day of the trial. His mother, Tesha Horsey, spoke to a reporter as she left the courthouse.

“We just want justice to be served,” she said.

Shannon Marvel McNaught reports from southern Delaware and beyond. Reach her at smcnaught@gannett.com or on Twitter @MarvelMcNaught.

This article originally appeared in Delaware News Journal: Witness testimony will be crucial in trial of two suspects in Laurel’s murder

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