A woman who was shot twice and whose boyfriend’s body was riddled with bullets in a 2011 Apison shooting saw the alleged shooter in court Tuesday and could hardly believe it.
A prosecutor asked Meghan Bennett if she knew the man sitting at the table, less than 20 feet away from her.
“Is that Nathan? Oh my God,” and she began crying.
Nathan Lalone, 22, looks a bit different from his mugshot photos after the Nov. 16, 2011 shooting that killed Christian Sosa, 19, and injured Bennett.
At the time he had a buzzed haircut and rangy goatee. Lalone now has a full head of hair, full beard and black-framed eyeglasses.
He faces charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in what’s been described by witnesses as an ambush-style shooting at around 10:26 p.m. that day at the Apison tennis courts near the 4500 block of Bill Jones Road.
Lalone faces life in prison, if convicted.
Bennett and Sosa drove to the tennis courts, Bennett testified, to meet with friend Tyler Conrad to smoke marijuana. Shortly after Bennett backed her car into a parking space she heard Sosa yell at her to “go, go, go.”
Bennett looked through the passenger window to see a tall man, dressed in all black and wearing a mask, begin firing a handgun at the car.
At least 11 shots were fired at the passenger door, many striking Sosa. Two hit Bennett as she drove away to her parents’ home on Camp Road minutes away.
Prosecutors Kristen Spires and Brian Finlay played two 911 calls from the incident. One was Bennett’s father telling the operator his daughter, who had just arrived at the house, had been shot and her boyfriend was bleeding.
“Oh my God, there’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven bullet holes,” Bennett’s father said. “He’s dead.”
Lalone’s attorney Kevin Loper asked Bennett about problems between Sosa and Tyler Conrad and Blakelen Adams, both 19 at the time.
Bennett confirmed that the men had problems and had argued. She initially told police Conrad could have been the shooter because he was whom they were supposed to meet at the tennis courts.
But in a 2011 preliminary hearing shortly after the shooting, Sabrina Lovett testified that before the shooting she was with the trio, who were smoking marijuana and complaining about Sosa. She testified that Lalone said Sosa had stolen a gun from him earlier.
She was later in a car with Conrad, Adams and Lalone a short time after the shooting at a Walmart 10 miles from the crime scene, and Lalone told the other two men that he’d shot Sosa in the head, Lovett testified.
Police found a pair of sweatpants with Lalone’s driver’s license in the pocket 150 yards from the scene of the shooting.
Lovett is scheduled to testify later in the trial.
Adams and Conrad also were charged at the time of Lalone’s arrest. Adams’ charges were not sent to the grand jury for indictment, lacking probable cause. Conrad’s were but he died at his home on June 8, 2013.
The trial will resume today in Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern’s courtroom.
Contact staff writer Todd South at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...