Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 8:51 a.m.
The driver who says front-seat passenger Donald Delahanty fired four bullets in Phoenix police officer David Uribe's face back in May 2005 took the witness stand Tuesday at Delahanty's first-degree murder trial. The underlying question to Chris Wilson's terse, stark, and generally believable testimony was: Why?
Why in the world did Delahanty allegedly reach around Wilson with a handgun after the veteran officer (pictured) pulled over the late-model Monte Carlo in a routine traffic stop at Cactus Road and 33rd Avenue?
Wilson told a rapt jury at the trial in Judge Warren Granville's county courtroom that it was the culmination of a month-long obsession
that the defendant, now 22, had with killing a cop, any cop, if given the chance.
At least twice during that month, according to Wilson, Delahanty told him "something to the effect that he was gonna get him one."
By "one," he meant a peace officer.
Wilson testified in shackles and handcuffs, and was dressed in a jailhouse black-and-white striped jumpsuit. He has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case and is awaiting sentencing from behind bars, where he has been since Phoenix police arrested him on May 12, 2005.
Delahanty could face the death penalty if the jury convicts him.
Indiana native Wilson didn't mention that he, Delahanty, and others in their not-so-merry little band of miscreants were tweaking like mad on methamphetamine during the days and weeks leading up to Officer Uribe's assassination.
The murder stunned the Valley, both for its brazenness (it happened on a busy city street shortly before noon) and its senselessness (Wilson may have gotten off with no more than a ticket for driving without a license and registration, and without proof of insurance).
Wilson claimed that he declined to render aid to the fallen officer because he feared that Delahanty might shoot him. Instead, he followed Delahanty's "orders" and drove off into an adjacent neighborhood before the pair and another passenger abandoned the car and fled on foot.
The third man -- who already has testified against Delahanty in this fast-paced trial -- subsequently split from Delahanty and Wilson. The pair soon disappeared into the nearby Metrocenter mall.
Wilson testified that as he and Delahanty awaited a ride from a friend (former corrections officer David York), they ordered salads, muffins and soft drinks. The juxtaposition of the mortally wounded officer laying on the pavement as the alleged murder and his quasi-accomplice munching on a nice little meal was almost too much for some of Uribe's family and friends in attendance to bear.
More than a few of them shook their heads in disbelief and dismay as Wilson continued.
Delahanty's lead attorney, Randall Craig, attempted to poke holes in Wilson's account, noting discrepancies in accounts given to authorities at different times about what had happened inside the Monte Carlo.
But Wilson seemed to hold his own, especially during an eerie recreation of his version of the events. He demonstrated it while seated almost as close to a few of the jurors as he had been to Delahanty during that terrible morning almost four years ago.
Dressed in a black suit, Delahanty listened intently to his former pal, occasionally turning to one of his attorneys to whisper something and, more often than not, to smile.