ST. LOUIS — Ann Dorn gathered more than a dozen friends and family to hold hands and form a prayer circle moments before entering a St. Louis courtroom where the trial for her husband’s accused killer was about to begin Monday.
Their prayer was for justice.
Retired St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Captain David Dorn was shot to death during unrest on June 2, 2020, following the death of George Floyd.
Dorn tried to stop looters from destroying a pawn shop in downtown St. Louis. He was working as a security guard at the pawn shop, where his wife said he had been friends with the owner for about 40 years.
Twenty-six-year-old Stephan Cannon has been charged with first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, robbery, burglary, stealing and unlawful possession of a weapon.
During opening statements, Chief Trial Assistant Marvin Teer told jurors Cannon had long dreadlocks in the surveillance video from the shooting and could be seen firing a gun. He cut off those dreadlocks the next day and posted “his new look” on social media.
“May 25 was a tragic time for the country and St. Louis,” Teer said. “The tragic death of George Floyd set a fire off across the country. With civil unrest came chaos. Our streets were ravaged with chaos and looters, and with that pain came acts, many of which were unconscionable.”
Teer said Cannon fired 10 shots, four of which hit Dorn, “Leaving him there on the sidewalk to die,” he said.
Ann Dorn held her head in her hand as Teer described her husband's final moments.
Teer said the retired captain was "right up front, like he always was" when his friend called to tell him the pawn shop was being looted.
"What he didn't expect was to run into somebody who wasn't afraid of someone else with a gun," Teer said.
Senior Public Defender Brian Horneyer told jurors how the state’s only witness in this case is Mark Jackson, who is accused of driving the getaway car. Jackson’s debit card was found on the floor of the pawn shop, which is what led police to him, Horneyer said.
Horneyer said police connected his client to Jackson because of an encounter they had with him and Jackson together in a park three years ago.
Horneyer said police called “an army of evidence technicians” to the pawn shop, and no one could find a trace of Cannon there.
"There's a quote Mark Jackson is saying in the interrogation room on June 10, 2020 after he's been told by police he's been charged with murder for this role in the death of Mr. Dorn,” Horneyer said. “Jackson turns to police and says, ‘I'll say pretty much anything to get out of these cuffs and back to my son. You tell me what to say and I will say it. I'll witness whatever you want me to witness.’ Those are the exact words of the only witness the state may put on the stand that will say Stephan Cannon killed David Dorn. There is no forensic, physical, scientific or eyewitness evidence other than Jackson’s that points in any way shape or form to Cannon as being the killer of David Dorn."
The state called Lidell Chapple as its first witness. He was streaming the chaos live from his cellphone that night when he came upon Dorn lying on the sidewalk outside the pawn shop.
He wiped his face with his hand several times as prosecutors played his video, in which he can be heard screaming repeatedly, "They just killed this man cuz, over some TVs cuz, call an ambulance, this is somebody's granddaddy. OG stay with me, stay with me OG, come on OG. We better than this man.”
In all, jurors heard from seven witnesses, which included police detectives and a ballistic expert.
The defense and prosecution clashed during testimony of a detective who said she analyzed Cannon's social media posts and found he posted pictures of himself with his dreadlocks cut the same day police released surveillance images.
Horneyer noted how the detective could not determine whether the picture of Cannon sans the dreadlocks had been taken, only that it was posted that day.
She also testified that she found pictures of Cannon holding two guns in one hand while wearing an Adidas shirt that could be seen in the surveillance video of the man prosecutors said was the shooter.
Dorn served with the St. Louis police department for almost 40 years, then worked nearly six years as the chief of Moline Acres.
His widow was called as the state’s second witness. She said they had been together for 30 years, married for 15.
“Did you finally get him to retire?” Teer asked Ann Dorn.
“Yes,” she said.
“But he never really stopped?” Teer asked.
“No,” she said, a smile returning to her face as she wiped away tears. “He was always out there helping friends.”
The defense did not ask her any questions.
She returned to her seat in the gallery among the more than two dozen friends and supporters, including her husband’s two sons and three daughters.
The trial is expected to last through the week.