DECATUR — Rafael Graham told a Macon County Circuit Court jury Tuesday that he had no doubt the man who shot him multiple times — Charles L. Fitzpatrick — was sitting just a few yards away at the defense table.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke had just asked the retired educator how certain he was that Fitzpatrick was the man who aimed a gun through the passenger window of his car on the evening of Oct. 16 and pulled the trigger multiple times.
“I am certain,” the 71-year-old replied, testifying on the second day of the jury trial in front of Judge James Coryell.
Graham stared frequently at Fitzpatrick, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. The question of whether Fitzpatrick was the shooter who fired one bullet into Graham’s right elbow and two more into his torso — where they remain, too dangerous for doctors to extricate — is at the center of the case.
Defense attorney Scott Rueter cross-examined Graham, seeking to cast doubt on his identification of Fitzpatrick.
The prosecution said Fitzpatrick was one of a group of men who wandered across North Monroe Street as Graham was driving home and stopped him by damaging his car. Fitzpatrick had demanded money and then opened fire when Graham refused to pay, prosecutors said.
Under Rueter’s questioning, Graham said he had never actually seen a gun in Fitzpatrick’s hand, or saw muzzle flashes from where Fitzpatrick was standing as the bullets tore into his body.
“So it’s true, then, that you never saw this gentleman (Fitzpatrick) shoot you, correct?” Rueter said.
“I didn’t see him shoot,” Graham said. “But he was the one standing in the window talking to me.”
Earlier, the jury had been shown images of Graham’s bullet wounds and a long scar — reaching from his navel to the top of his chest — where surgeons had opened his body to repair massive internal damage caused by the bullets.
Graham said of the shooting that he remembers hearing “pop, pop, pop, pop” and feeling numbness in his back, but didn’t realize what had happened at first. He had climbed out of the car as the group of young men fled and, looking down, saw a spent bullet lying in a pool of blood on the driver’s seat. He remembers telling a bystander to call his wife and tell her “I’ve been shot” and then he remembers talking to a surgeon in hospital.
“I said, ‘You are going to have to cut me open, aren’t you?’ Graham said. “And he said, ‘Yes, I am’, and that is the last thing I remember before surgery.”
The trial continues today in courtroom 3A.