WILKES-BARRE — Elijah Yusiff handled the .22-caliber revolver without his mother knowing. He handled the revolver a lot.
He learned how to load it and unload it by playing video games. He took photos of it, of him holding it, and a video of himself loading and unloading it.
It’s the same gun, he testified Tuesday, that he pointed at his friend of three years, Tyler Winstead, on April 5, 2012, and fired — killing the 14-year-old.
“I realized Tyler was shot and I panicked,” Yusiff, 14, testified in the first day of a trial being held for his mother, Angelina DeAbreu, 31, who is charged with covering up Winstead’s shooting.
A jury of 11 men and three women, including two alternates, was chosen Tuesday morning and testimony began Tuesday afternoon. Yusiff was the second witness called to testify and did so for almost two and one-half hours Tuesday.
Yusiff testified he dragged Winstead’s body down a flight of stairs and outside before calling 911 to report Winstead was shot in a drive-by shooting.
“I made the story up … because I was scared I was gonna go to jail for the rest of my life,” Yusiff testified.
Yusiff said he never told his mother he’s the one who shot Winstead and told police, a 911 operator and the media it was a drive-by shooting. He even described the vehicle the alleged shooter drove away in and described his facial features to a police sketch artist.
Yusiff said he put the spent shell casing in his pocket and later hid it under a garbage can at his neighbor’s home.
It wasn’t until May 16, 2012, that Yusiff admitted to police, with attorneys by his side, that he shot Winstead.
The two were inside DeAbreu’s bedroom of her home at the time on Hill Street, Wilkes-Barre.
Yusiff said he wanted to show his friend the gun.
The gun was usually kept unloaded, Yusiff said, so when he pointed it at Winstead and pulled the trigger, nothing happened.
When he pulled the trigger again, a shot was fired and the bullet struck Winstead in the chest.
Yusiff testified he does not know where the gun is, only that it was removed from his home by his mother. She allegedly put the gun in a cat carrier and then it was taken to Yusiff’s grandfather’s house in Stroudsburg.
The day after the shooting, Yusiff said, blood stains inside DeAbreu’s home had been cleaned, but he didn’t clean them and didn’t know who did.
The family moved from the Hill Street home shortly after the shooting and into DeAbreu’s parents’ home in Stroudsburg.
Prosecutors also called Wilkes-Barre Police Officer Kevin Steve to testify.
He was one of the first members of law enforcement to arrive at the scene of Winstead’s shooting.
Steve testified Yusiff told him Winstead was shot in a drive-by shooting and that the gunman got away in a red Ford Taurus.
Steve later put out a “BOLO” — be on the lookout — to other law enforcement to keep an eye out for the vehicle.
Assistant District Attorney Mamie Phillips presented her opening statement Tuesday, while DeAbreu’s attorney, Larry Kansky, said they will wait until they begin their case to present their opening statement. It is unknown if DeAbreu will testify in her own defense.
Phillips said DeAbreu took steps to conceal the crime that occurred on April 5, 2012, hid information from police and told half-truths.
Phillips said DeAbreu had the opportunity in interviews with police to explain what happened and allegedly sent text messages to a friend to dispose of the weapon.