CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Murder charges were dropped Monday afternoon against the man accused in a deadly 2011 shooting during Speed Street festivities in uptown Charlotte.
Antonio Thompkins was charged with first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting that claimed the life of 22-year-old Antwan Smith. He turned himself in nearly a week after the incident.
“[We are] not necessarily surprised," said Thompkins' attorney Jeremy Smith. "The challenge I think they had in this case was—one, there were hundreds of people out there that said that they didn’t see anything.”
Smith spoke to NewsChannel 36 reporter Glenn Counts at 4 p.m. Monday before Smith was expected be meet with Thompkins upon his release from jail.
Police said more than 70 people, including 15 juveniles, were arrested in the early morning hours of May 28, 2011. Police initially said Thompkins pulled a gun and started firing after two groups got into a fight, but the charges stemming from that incident were dropped in a Mecklenburg County court on Monday.
Court documents show the state had a tough time putting a case together, with several witnesses changing their stories about what they saw the night of the incident. One key witness even stopped cooperating with officials.
“We cannot try cases without the help of individuals who witness criminal acts,” District Attorney Andrew Murray told NewsChannel 36 news partner The Charlotte Observer. “We simply don’t have the evidence. It is unfortunate we cannot proceed in this case for the families of the victims and the people of this community.”
A second man, Durante Kavon James, was shot in the leg but survived.
An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people were in the area at the time.
“He’s going to be very excited. We’re excited. I applaud the D.A.’s office for doing what was right in this case,” Smith added.