LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Prosecutors, in their opening statement to a Clark County jury Thursday, say an ex-convict chased two people around the Las Vegas Strip before shooting them to death in February 2016.
Omar Jamal Talley, 38, stands trial for the murders of Jennifer Chicas and Melissa Mendoza, and the attempted murder of Jerraud Jackson. Talley allegedly fought with Jackson in a parking garage at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood just before the car chase that led to the shootings on Harmon Avenue, police security video shows.
Jackson, who underwent surgery for a wound to the lower torso, gave powerful testimony about the shootings Thursday as the prosecution’s third witness of the day.
“He got into car and started chasing us in the car,” Jackson said before a dramatic pause. “And he just, like, chased us and shot the car up.”
The victims’ family members who were present at trial could be seen and heard crying throughout Jackson’s testimony, as well as during the testimonies of two police officers who responded to the multiple dynamic, chaotic crime scenes.
One such family member stormed out of court during an officer’s testimony, which included a harrowing 911 audio of one of the victim’s hysterical screams and cries that she was shot. In the most dramatic moment of the day, a 911 operator could be heard repeatedly trying to keep the victim on the phone, but police found the woman nonresponsive.
Prosecutors said in the aftermath of the shooting, they found a rental car torched and completely burned, eventually tracing it to Talley by the vehicle identification number and partial license plate. Talley’s phone number appeared on the car rental application, prosecutors told the jury. Court documents show Talley’s girlfriend had rented the car – a gray Toyota Camry.
Talley’s attorney, in a tactical decision not often employed during murder trials, told Judge Jacqueline Bluth and jurors that he would reserve his opening statement until he begins presenting his case-in-chief after the prosecution rests.
“This is for tactical reasons,” attorney Christopher Oram said. “I’ve never done it before.”
In the years since Talley’s arrest, he has switched lawyers and also had a different judge assigned to the case prior to Bluth.
Just days after the shooting Talley got into a fight with Jackson, which mall security had to break up, trying to keep Talley from leaving at the same time Jackson did. However, Talley managed to take off before security could stop him, according to an arrest report obtained by the 8 News Now Investigators,
Jackson was in a silver Hyundai with Chicas and Mendoza. The report says surveillance video shows Talley driving fast on Harmon Avenue, crossing Las Vegas Boulevard to follow the car, before catching up with them at a stoplight.
Talley stopped right behind them, got out of his car, walked up to the driver’s side door and pointed a gun at the driver, but he didn’t shoot, the report said.
Police said Mendoza sped off, but a short time later, police received reports of shots fired near W. Harmon Avenue and Polaris Avenue.
When officers arrived at the scene, Chicas was found in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. She was taken to University Medical Center where she later died.
A few minutes later, Metro officers responded to a call about two people who had driven up to the valet area of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. They too were shot, police said.
Mendoza died from her gunshot injuries, the report said.
Talley previously served time in a Nevada prison for pandering and child abuse.