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Trial opens in shooting death of fast-food restaurant worker

June 28, 2021 GMT

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Trial has opened for a man charged in the shooting death of an employee during an attempted robbery of a fast-food restaurant in northwestern Pennsylvania last year.

Markese Lampley, 21, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the January 2020 death of 22-year-old Alexander Cavanah at the Wendy’s restaurant in Washington Township near Edinboro. Authorities said the victim, the shift manager, was shot during a struggle and died at a hospital. Authorities said the suspect was wearing a ski mask and a motorcycle helmet, but the helmet fell off during the struggle and he fled on a motorcycle.

The Erie Times-News reports that the prosecutor’s opening statement Monday said evidence supporting a first-degree murder conviction would come from employee testimony and surveillance video as well as Lampley’s acknowledgement of the slaying in a letter to the district judge and in phone calls from prison.

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An Erie County judge has granted Lampley’s request to represent himself, but he said earlier that he would not mount a defense or even participate in the case. Asked about an opening statement Monday, Lampley said he would like to make a statement later in the trial, as the defense is allowed to do once prosecutors rest their case.

Lampley maintains that his real name is Mileage Galor Bey and that he is a “sovereign citizen” or an “indigenous citizen” outside of the jurisdiction of the court system. During jury selection, he declined to question potential jurors and repeatedly declined comment when asked by the judge if he had anything to say, the paper reported.