Teen brothers charged with murder to be tried together

Shakidi Underwood and Kamari Underwood_158763
Brothers Kamari Underwood, left, and Shakidi Underwood, right, walk to Allen Superior Court on Jan. 14, 2016 for a court appearance.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Brothers facing multiple murder charges will share a courtroom for their May trial.

On Thursday, a judge granted the state’s motion to consolidate the cases of brothers Shakidi Underwood, 18, and Kamari, 16, in relation to the July 9, 2015, fatal shooting of 30-year-old Melvin Palmer III outside a home on the southeast side. Another teen, 16-year-old Vicxon Gray, was also charged.

Court documents indicate Palmer approached Kamari Underwood with money in his hand when the boy pulled out a gun. The two began to fight, and during the struggle, shots were fired. Palmer later died at a hospital.

Shakidi Underwood was arrested four months later in Georgia, after Kamari Underwood and Gray had already been arrested. All three were initially charged with murder, felony murder and robbery. The brothers have since been added charges of gang activity and use of a firearm.

Gray agreed to a plea deal in December that granted him reprieve from prison time in exchange for a guilty plea of assisting a criminal.

During Thursday’s court appearance, Kamari’s attorney argued he acted in self-defense.

It’s likely Shakidi’s newly appointed attorney will also use a self-defense argument. The judge told Shakidi’s attorney if he can find a self-defense argument and present it to her, she may separate the cases, but said for now they are consolidated.

Their trial was set for May 10, 2016.Additional case details:

According to charging information, Palmer was riding with a friend in the 4000 block of Lillie Street when the car pulled over and Palmer approached the Kamari Underwood with money in his hand. Police believe the boy then pulled out a gun.

The two then began to fight and the struggle went to the ground, court documents said. During the fight, two gunshots rang out. At that point, someone emerged from a home and began shooting at Palmer, the charging information said.

Palmer then broke free and ran to the vehicle, and it sped off toward a hospital, court documents said. The car eventually found and cut off an ambulance, and medics found Palmer suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital where he would later die.

Police surrounded a Lillie Street home and eventually raided the it after a stand-off, though it was empty.

During an investigation, Fort Wayne police found two guns they believe were dropped by the teens. An investigation showed that Palmer was missing some of the cash he had before his encounter with the teenagers, court documents showed.

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