Woman testifies that murder defendant Holmes told her, 'I shot somebody'

Crying and covering her face with her hands on the witness stand in New London Superior Court Thursday, the young woman who was at an Old Saybrook hotel with accused murderer Evan J. Holmes when he was arrested two years ago testified that Holmes had confided in her.

"He told me he shot someone," Shanice Sebastian told the jury at Holmes' trial. "He just said that he went inside somebody's house and shooted. At the time, we didn't know if he (the victim) was killed or anything."

Holmes, 22, of New London, is charged with forcing his way into an apartment at 252 Montauk Ave. in New London and fatally shooting 25-year-old Jorge Rosa in the early-morning hours of Nov. 12, 2011. He has pleaded not guilty.

"I don't think he (Holmes) even knew him (Rosa)," Sebastian testified under direct examination by prosecutor Sarah W. Bowman.

Sebastian, who was 19 at the time, said Holmes, a longtime acquaintance whom she started seeing on a daily basis after he was released from prison in early November 2011, had picked her up at a friend's house earlier that morning and driven to the Old Saybrook Days Inn.

She said she had seen Holmes hours before outside the WildStyle Riders motorcycle club in downtown New London, where she said he was angry and was bleeding from the mouth. Somebody had come into the club and said "people were jumping Evan," Sebastian testified.

As Holmes' friends tried to calm him down, Sebastian testified that she left the club with a friend who told her, "You don't know what can happen. We want to get away from all this."

According to previous testimony and court records, Holmes had fought that night with Todd "T.O." Silva, who was Rosa's roommate at 252 Montauk Ave., but was not home when the shooting occurred about 1½ hours after the incident at the downtown club.

Gabriela Gonzalez, who was sleeping with Rosa when he was shot, had testified earlier this week that she woke up to hear Holmes, who was her ex-boyfriend, asking Rosa "who he was" before Holmes shot Rosa. Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version of this sentence.

Sebastian said Holmes was bleeding from the mouth and the finger when he picked her up at her friend's house about 4:30 a.m. He told her someone hit him with a bottle, she said. Shortly after they got into the room in Old Saybrook, he told her he shot somebody, she said.

Awakened by their phones some time later, Sebastian said they turned on the TV and learned that a man had been killed in New London. Holmes seemed shocked, she said, and she became sick to her stomach and vomited.

"He was saying that this wasn't supposed to happen," she testified. "He was crying, too. He was scared, too."

Holmes was taken into custody a short time later after investigators used cellphone signals to track him to Old Saybrook and local police spotted his car at Days Inn, according to previous testimony. Sebastian was questioned by police and released.

During cross-examination, defense attorney William T. Koch Jr. read from a transcript of Sebastian's interrogation by New London Detectives Keith Crandall and Richard Curcuro. The detectives told Sebastian she could be charged with hindering prosecution if she didn't tell the truth and said the "street code" of keeping silent "doesn't play in a homicide." They told her Holmes was "going down," and if she wanted, she could "go down with him."

Sebastian testified that she didn't tell the truth during an initial interrogation because she was scared and didn't want to "dig a deeper hole" for Holmes. She returned to the police department the next day and told the truth, she testified.

The state will continue calling witnesses when the trial resumes today.

k.florin@theday.com

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