This morning in court the jury heard opening statements in the trial of Stephan Cannon, the man accused of murdering retired police Captain David Dorn. Statements by both the prosecution and defense signaled that the trial's outcome may hinge on the testimony of Mark Jackson, a man who was allegedly with Cannon on the night of Dorn's killing and who police say fled with Cannon from the scene.
Cannon is charged with one count of first degree murder as well as stealing, burglary, robbery and three counts of armed criminal action.
Dorn was killed in June 2020 amid the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In his relatively brief opening statement, prosecutor Marvin Teer reminded people of those weeks of protests that at times turned violent.
"Along with civil unrest, came chaos," said Teer, a longtime municipal court judge who joined the Circuit Attorney's Office last year and is trying his first case as a lead prosecutor. He recounted the events on the evening of June 1 into the early hours on June 2, which saw numerous stores in St. Louis looted.
Among those stores was Lee's Pawn and Jewelry on the 4100 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
However, when the pawn shop's alarm sounded, Teer said, "Somebody special came to Lee's."
That somebody special was David Dorn, 77, a 38-year veteran of St. Louis Metropolitan police and retired police chief of Moline Acres. He helped out with security at the pawn shop because it was owned by a longtime friend.
According to Teer, Dorn fired off several shots to try to disperse the dozens of people in the crowd, but Dorn "didn't expect" to run into someone not afraid of a man with a gun. As Teer said this, he pointed to Stephan Cannon seated next to his public defenders.
The jury viewed approximately 20 minutes of surveillance video from the pawn shop that night, though the public seated in the court's viewing area could not see the footage.
Teer said in his opening statement the state will prove this man, whose face was covered, was Cannon.
Teer also indicated that the prosecution will call as a witness Mark Jackson, who is charged with second-degree murder and robbery in connection to Dorn’s killing.
Jackson's attorney, Terry Niehoff, previously told the Post-Dispatch that Jackson plans to testify that he drove Cannon to Lee's but was unaware Cannon had a gun. Niehoff also said his client will testify that he drove Cannon away from Lee's that night after the shooting and that Cannon later admitted to him he killed Dorn.
Cannon's public defender Brian Horneyer used his opening statement to cast doubt both on the notion that Cannon was the masked individual who fired the shots that killed Dorn as well as discredit the prosecution's star witness, Jackson.
According to Horneyer, when Jackson was being interrogated by police, he said, "I'll say pretty much anything to get out of these cuffs and back to my son. Tell me what to say and I'll say it. I'll witness whatever you want me to witness."
Horneyer went on to say that the masked man who shot Dorn also touched "numerous surfaces" in Lee's prior to shooting Dorn, but when police took fingerprints and DNA from those locations, they found nothing that indicated Cannon was the masked man.
The morning's proceedings also saw testimony from Ann Dorn, David Dorn's wife of almost 30 years who is herself a former police officer.
She described her husband as "larger than life," a dedicated policeman and public servant as well as a loving father and grandfather.
She fought back tears when she recounted learning that her husband had been fatally shot protecting his longtime friend's business.