Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Trial Begins in Paterson Shooting

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Trial Begins in Paterson Shooting

Article excerpt

A newly sworn jury listened in rapt attention in a Paterson courtroom Wednesday as a prosecutor and a defense attorney told starkly different stories in their opening statements in the case of a woman accused of trying to murder her estranged wife.

Leigh White, 47, is accused of shooting Ronisha S. Brandon in March 2014 in the kitchen of the home they had shared since their marriage four years earlier.

In her opening statement, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Giselle DaSilva told the jury that Brandon had decided to end her relationship with White and had moved in with another woman in New York but agreed to return to meet with White on March 10, 2014.

The prosecutor said White demanded to know when Brandon was moving back in, and Brandon said she wasn't.

Then, DaSilva said, White declared, "If you're not going to be with me, you're not going to be with nobody," and shot Brandon in the arm.

But defense lawyer Kalman Geist sketched out a far different scenario, calling Brandon "an evil lady" who had been such a threat to White and her family that White demanded that she leave.

Geist said he would present evidence that would "blow away this dark and ugly cloud that has been hanging over my client's head since March of 2014."

In her opening statement, DaSilva said White at first refused to take the bleeding Brandon to the emergency room at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center and even refused to call the 911 emergency number. It was not until two hours later, when Brandon said she would walk to the hospital herself, that White relented and agreed to take her wounded wife to the hospital, the prosecutor said.

Initially, DaSilva said, Brandon lied to doctors, police officers and detectives at the hospital, telling them that she had been shot by an unknown assailant driving by in a car as she walked on the street near the apartment.

"Ask yourselves if you ever lied to protect someone you cared for," DaSilva told the jurors. "And several hours later," the prosecutor said, "she told detectives the truth. And when detectives went to the apartment, they found the gun, and they found blood in the kitchen. …

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