Nicholus Leman testifies about being shot in the ear on the opening day trial of Edmond Overton at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nicholus Leman testifies about being shot in the ear on the opening day trial of Edmond Overton at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Trial begins in Everett masked shooter murder case

Everyone in the home knew Edmond Overton. But that night in 2017, nobody identified him as the killer.

EVERETT — A masked man fired the shot that killed Darren Larson in October 2017, at a north Everett apartment known for drug trafficking.

Almost 2½ years later, a jury will consider if the shooter was Edmond Overton, 26. He’s accused of shooting two rounds that night, in an apartment near the corner of Colby Avenue and 22nd Street.

The first bullet hit the left ear of resident Nicholus Leman, 40, and lodged between his skull and his scalp.

The second struck Larson in the back, passing through his heart and lungs. He died at the scene. He was 55.

According to prosecutors, it was a robbery for drugs and money. Leman testified Wednesday he’d been selling heroin and meth out of the home in 2017.

Earlier that night at a grocery store, Leman crossed paths with a man he knew, who aggressively asked him for Xanax. He knew the man by first name only, and he later told police he believed that man, who is white, was the armed robber.

Overton, however, is African American.

All six people in the house knew Overton and his girlfriend, Vanessa Grimmett, who is the niece of one of the residents. For months the pair had been visiting the apartment a few times a week, defense attorney Jon Scott said in his opening statement Wednesday.

“What’s amazing is nobody identified the armed gunman who came into the house as Edmond Overton,” Scott said. “Everybody saw him, and everybody knows him.”

Edmond Overton enters the Snohomish County Courthouse on the opening day of his trial for first degree murder on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Edmond Overton enters the Snohomish County Courthouse on the opening day of his trial for first degree murder on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Leman had just returned home from making a drug deal, when the robber kicked in the apartment door.

One of the residents put his hands on the suspect, and the suspect responded by calling him by name, and saying something like, “Get back or I’ll kill you.”

Nobody recognized that voice, Scott said.

On the witness stand, Leman struggled to describe the shooter’s appearance — except that he dressed in a dark outfit, and that the mask covered his nose and mouth.

“He was about the same size and build as Edmond right there,” Leman testified.

The robber whipped Leman with the gun at least three times, he testified. Leman recalled he chased the fleeing gunman with a small stun gun and shocked him on the back of his neck.

“I could see the gun raising up toward my face, and I tried to spin out of the way, but he shot it, and it clipped me right across the face right here and it went through my ear,” Leman said in court. “At that point I went down, fell down.”

He now hears a constant hissing in one ear.

As he ran off, the shooter fired once more into the house, killing Larson.

Charges allege the gunman was Overton, who jumped into a waiting car occupied by his girlfriend and the car’s owner, Laura Johnson.

According to Grimmett’s later statements to police, Overton told her that he’d shot someone.

They drove to Lynnwood, ditched the gun and eventually called another friend to get a ride to a Northgate motel. Overton reportedly told the friend he’d just robbed somebody of an ounce of meth.

A list corresponding to evidence markers is show on a screen during the opening day trial of Edmond Overton at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A list corresponding to evidence markers is show on a screen during the opening day trial of Edmond Overton at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Police arrested Overton and Grimmett in Northgate. Ever since, Overton has been awaiting trial behind bars.

In 2014, Overton served time in Ventura County, California, for burglary and assault with a deadly weapon with force possible to cause gross bodily injury.

In the days before the robbery, Grimmett and her aunt apparently argued about a stolen smart tablet and a denied request for cash, according to the charges. Grimmett told police she knew that Overton was plotting to rob her aunt and Leman.

Grimmett pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery with a firearm two years ago, in January 2018, and she was sentenced to almost 8½ years behind bars.

Johnson pleaded guilty to the same robbery charge days ago. She’s facing a similar sentence at a court hearing set for early February.

Overton is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

His trial is expected to last about two weeks in front of Superior Court Judge Paul Thompson. It’s scheduled to resume Monday.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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