First-degree murder charged dropped in 6th day of Washington trial

 Sean Kolonich from MSP's forensics lab was on the stand and described the scene, including a found cartridge at the scene.   (Source WILX)
Sean Kolonich from MSP's forensics lab was on the stand and described the scene, including a found cartridge at the scene. (Source WILX) (WILX)
Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 5:50 PM EST
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Monday marked the sixth day in court in the Steven Washington case, where the trial took a surprising twist.

Prosecutors have dropped the first-degree murder charge against a man accused of shooting an MSU student last year, and that means Washington could be a free man one day, even if he is found guilty of killing Isai Berrones.

"All of that evidence corroborates Ivan Keener's identification that this defendant, Steven Washington, was present on scene and shot and killed Isai Berrones."

Prosecutors say Washington is guilty of shooting and killing 22-year-old Berrones and their case relies on strong witness testimony.

"That girl, Miracle Chatman, was able to identify that the black male with the gun had a tattoo under his left eye."

They say there was also physical evidence in Angela Kelly's car, who was dating Washington at the time.

"Those bullets were found in Angela Kelly's vehicle, and as we know it ladies and gentleman, those bullets matched the same shell casing that was at the scene."

The state says Keener, who started the brawl, aggressively confronted Berrones outside of the 25 East apartment complex. Prosecutors say Berrones tried to run away.

"Isai Berrones turned on that grass, ran west being chased by Ivan Keener right into the waiting gun of Steven Washington, who pointed that gun at his chest, fired it and left him to die."

But prosecutors told the jury not to believe everything Keener said on the stand, especially that he saw Berrones had a knife in his hand and had lunged at Washington.

They said that the evidence does not corroborate self-defense.

"It's not a frame job. It's an explain job--to try and explain to his parents, police and otherwise why someone that he brought into that house to be in a physical confrontation, ended up murdering a 22-year-old boy. That is the only explanation that makes sense with the evidence in this case."

The jury could still convict Washington of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison, but it could also give him a shot at parole one day.

Washington's defense will deliver closing arguments Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

Back on

Keener, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact in the death of Berrones, took the stand after an offer of immunity.

Prosecutors had to agree not to use what he said in court against him.

Keener told the court that he asked his two cousins, Jessica and Angela Kelly, to beat up two women who started a confrontation with him at a friend's house.

Those two women were Aieka and Miracle Chatman, who testified previously in this case.

Keener, the Kellys and Washington drove to the apartment where they got into a physical brawl with the Chatmans, according to Keener.

He said he saw Berrones exit a nearby terrace and he thought he was holding a knife.

Keener said he then saw Berrones just feet from Washington.

"They were squared off face to face and Steve looked like he had a gun out and it looked like Isai had a knife," Keener said. He said he heard a gunshot.

Keener said that he then left the scene with the Kellys and Washington.

Washington, 30, of Tunica, Mississippi, is charged with open murder for a shooting at an apartment complex in East Lansing, a little over a year ago.

Prosecutors say he shot and killed Berronies, 22, during an altercation involving several people at the 25 East apartments on Abbot Road back in October of 2018.

Copyright 2019 WILX. All rights reserved.

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