Frias testifies in murder trial

Local News

SIOUX FALL, SD (KELO) — The suspect charged in a Sioux Falls drug deal that turned deadly took the witness stand Thursday. Manuel Frias said he shot Samuel Crockett in self-defense after Crockett opened fire outside an apartment building in January of 2018. Frias told the jury he had no intention of harming anyone as the drug deal was going down.

The shooting happened as Frias and his friend Corey Zephier were about to sell meth at Zephier’s Rice Street apartment. Instead, the drug deal left both Zephier and Crockett dead, and Frias facing a charge of first-degree murder.

Manuel Frias says he got into a struggle with Samuel Crockett inside the Rice Street apartment after Crockett pulled out a gun in the second-floor hallway.

Frias testified that the struggle spilled outdoors when Crockett shot and killed Corey Zephier. Frias said he returned fire because Crockett was also shooting at him. Frias testified that when the shooting ended, he told his friend Zephier to get up, but Zephier didn’t.

Frias says he panicked and left, never calling 911 or trying to help Zephier or Crockett. Frias said that because of his drug-dealing past, he didn’t think law enforcement would believe his side of the story if he remained at the scene.

A SWAT team arrested Frias nearly two weeks later in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Frias testified that he wasn’t planning on using his gun the day of the drug deal and that he had never fired at anyone before.

Under cross-examination, Frias admitted to trying to buy bullets at a Sioux Falls Wal-Mart just hours before the shooting. He was turned down because the store has a policy of not selling ammo that late at night.

Prosecutors also allege that Frias intended to rob Crockett. They presented evidence of a text in which Frias used the word “lick,” a reference to robbery, according to Sioux Falls narcotics detectives. But Frias says the word has other meanings including simply the exchange of money.

Closing arguments in the trial will take place on Monday.

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