Detective testifies about interrogation in case of ‘lookout’ suspect of El Mula mass shooting

Miami-Dade detective who interrogated suspect admits she ‘wanted to cry’ when 1 of 6 DVDs of recording had ‘distorted’ audio

Detective Amanda Turnes testified on Tuesday in court about the interrogation of a suspect in the El Mula mass shooting on 2021 in Miami-Dade. (Copyright 2023 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Testimony in the trial of a 24-year-old man who is accused of acting as “a lookout” during a 2021 mass shooting continued on Tuesday in Miami-Dade County court.

Detectives reported a group of shooters fired at a crowd who was waiting to get into a Memorial Day weekend party at about 12:30 a.m., on May 30, 2021, at El Mula Banquet Hall, at 7630 NW 186 St.

Detective Alexandra Turnes, one of the prosecution’s witnesses, said the suspects arrived in a black Nissan Altima, a white Nissan Path Finder, and a black Cadillac XT5.

“I wasn’t shooting; I don’t know who was shooting,” Davonte Barnes, then 22, said during a police interrogation, according to a video the prosecution played to the jury in open court.

Detectives reported that 23 people were shot. Shaniqua Peterson, Desmond Owens, and Clayton Dillard III died and 20 were injured during the group’s attempt to kill a local rapper.

Barnes — who is not accused of shooting at the victims — was “the eyes of the operation,” according to Assistant State Attorney Kioceaia Stenso. Barnes is the only suspect prosecuted in the case.

Other detectives who studied the evidence at the crime scene and from the victims’ bodies testified there were nine different firearms involved including a GLOCK Gen5 pistol.

Turnes said recording the interrogation with Barnes required six DVDs with two hours of video each, but the first had “an issue” with the audio. She said it was “distorted,” and she “freaked” out after several attempts to burn other DVDs.

“Honestly, I wanted to cry. It’s very crucial,” Turnes said about the evidence in Barnes’s case.

Attorney Robert Barrar, who is defending Barnes, said during his opening statement that the detectives’ interrogation was about eight hours long, and Barnes “said what they wanted him to say.”

Detectives arrested Barnes after he confessed on Sept. 23, 2021, and prosecutors charged him with three counts of first-degree murder and 20 counts of first-degree attempted murder, records show.

Barnes was in the custody of the Miami-Dade County Pre-Trial Detention Center. Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez was presiding over the case.

If convicted, Barnes faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. Tinkler Mendez announced a death penalty waiver before the trial started.

Watch the 12 p.m. report

Watch the 4:30 p.m. report

Coverage of the trial archives: Related stories

About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.