ST. LOUIS – Attorneys representing the man accused of gunning down a retired St. Louis police captain at a St. Louis city pawn shop says prosecutors have no forensic evidence linking their client to the murder, but police coaxed their only witness with a plea deal in exchange for testimony.
Stephan Cannon faces charges of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, stealing $750 or more, unlawful possession of a firearm, and three counts of armed criminal action. Cannon is one of two men accused of killing David Dorn.
Cannon’s trial is expected to last less than a week. A jury of eight women and four men will decide Cannon’s fate.
Prior to the jury’s arrival in court, Judge Theresa Burke asked members of Dorn’s family and others to remove any tchotchkes or pins from their clothing showing support for Dorn or police to avoid influencing jurors.
In his opening statement to the jury, prosecutor Marvin Teer Jr. acknowledged the murder of George Floyd led to civil unrest in the spring and summer of 2020, much of it spurred by legitimate pain and grievance. But in some places, that unrest led to chaos, Teer said.
Dorn died on June 2, 2020, while responding to a burglar alarm at a friend’s business, Lee’s Pawn and Jewelry. Looters broke into the store around 2 a.m. and Dorn was fatally wounded when he confronted them. He was 77.
Cannon, a Glasgow Village resident, was arrested just days later and charged in Dorn’s murder. A second man, Mark Jackson, was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, stealing $750 or more, and three counts of armed criminal action. At least four other people have been charged related to looting the business.
The prosecution said Dorn arrived at the pawnshop and, upon seeing looters coming and going from the business, took his gun and fired a round into the air to disperse the crowd. However, prosecutors allege Cannon went to the car he arrived in–a Pontiac G6–retrieved a handgun, and fired 10 times at Dorn, striking him four times.
Dorn was killed over two televisions, prosecutors said.
Police released video of the suspects to the public and were able to identify Cannon through surveillance footage and tips from the public, Teer said.
Defense attorney Brian Horneyer said police lack concrete evidence pointing to Cannon as the killer. In fact, Horneyer claims the other suspect in the case, Mark Jackson, was directed to identify Cannon as the under interrogation.
According to Horneyer, Jackson was so concerned about getting out of jail and seeing his son, that he told police he’d do anything they asked of him.
Horneyer highlighted a direct quote from Jackson during his interrogation: “I’ll witness anything you want me to witness… You tell me what to say and I’ll say it.”
Jackson’s story changed several times during police interrogation, Horneyer said. He went from implicating two different innocent men in the murder before finally saying Cannon admitted to killing Dorn.
Police and prosecutors have cut Jackson a deal, the defense claims. In exchange for his testimony against Cannon, Jackson could get just two years in prison.
Cannon’s connection to Jackson is tenuous at best, Horneyer said, adding the two men were arrested together about three years prior for being in a park after hours.
The defense claims blood and fingerprint examinations do not match with Cannon. Horneyer said police never found the weapon and do not have the clothes, mask, or hat tied to the shooter.
Horneyer notes Cannon was arrested with a .22 caliber gun in his possession but adds the gun used to kill David Dorn was a 9mm.
Liddell Chapple was the first witness for the prosecution. He was the individual who livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on social media. He testified that he was out and about that evening with crowds of people who had been out protesting.
That video was played for the jury. However, due to the graphic nature of its content, the gallery only heard the audio.
Chapple can be heard angrily lamenting Dorn’s murder. In the video, he attempts to revive Dorn while yelling at others on the street about the looting. He told the court he stayed with Dorn until he saw police coming and then he left.
Chapple was arrested a short time later. He told the defense under cross-examination that police spiked his vehicle and took him in. He didn’t voluntarily go to police.
When asked about the shooting itself, Chapple said he observed two men shoot at Dorn: one armed with a pistol and the other armed with a rifle or long gun.
Ann Dorn, the slain police captain’s widow, was next to testify.
She told the court she and David were married almost 30 years and that he was a man of God, a dedicated public servant, and a loving father and grandfather.
Ann explained that David had known the pawn shop owner for about 40 years and that David would routinely answer alarms at the store.
She testified that she went to bed at 11 p.m. on June 1. She was awakened around 5 a.m. by a knock at the door. It was the chief of police and two other officers there to inform her David had been killed.
The defense declined cross-examination. Ann Dorn opted to remain in the courtroom with her family after testifying.
Prosecutors spent the rest of the day soliciting testimony from a manager at Lee’s Pawn and Jewelry, as well as an evidence technician for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, a now-retired firearms examiner from the city crime lab, and two St. Louis police detectives.
The prosecution isn’t expected to rest its case until Wednesday. It’s unclear if Stephan Cannon will testify on his own behalf.