Victim's friend, mother testify in death penalty trial

Jamie Berry, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·6 min read

Apr. 20—It was an emotional day in Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley's courtroom as two key witnesses were called to the stand in a death penalty trial for a Texas man.

Joseph Fidel Alliniece, 32, of Missouri City, Texas, is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Norman resident Brittani Young, 27, and also faces two counts of kidnapping and one count of robbery by force or fear.

According to a Norman police affidavit, officers found Young on April 24, 2018, dead inside her Emerald Greens Apartments residence. Alliniece is being held on $5 million bond, state records show.

During opening arguments, defense attorney Mitchell Solomon didn't dispute that Alliniece committed a crime, but claimed the crime was committed out of anger, fear and rage, not premeditation.

One of Young's friends was present just after the murder, along with her toddler. She testified that six days before the murder, Young received a call from Alliniece, her ex-boyfriend from when she lived in Houston, and offered to let him stay in her new apartment in Norman for a short time while he studied to get his commercial driver's license.

Her friend testified Monday that Young was hesitant to invite him over, but was excited to help somebody. The friend testified that she picked up Alliniece from a local gas station and took him to Young's residence, since Young didn't have a car.

The friend testified that Young was initially happy to see him, and the friend visited both of them four of the six days Alliniece was at Young's apartment. About four days into the stay, the friend reported overhearing arguments between the two of them and complaints from Young about Alliniece's behavior and lack of respect.

On April 24, 2018, the friend said Young called and asked her to pick her up some cigarettes, so she bought some and went to Young's apartment with her toddler. Young met her outside, upset, with Alliniece, and the two talked before heading to the apartment.

Several times during her testimony, the friend cried and was allowed to exit the courtroom briefly until she could regain her composure.

Once inside Young's apartment, the friend said an argument began between Young and Alliniece about payment for the cigarettes, and Alliniece seemed tense. After the friend was reimbursed and her toddler was placed in Young's bedroom for a nap, the three of them smoked and the situation calmed down somewhat.

The friend said she didn't believe Young was in danger based on their interaction before she left. Otherwise, she said, she wouldn't have left Young.

The friend said she left at 1:55 p.m. with her toddler for a doctor's appointment, which lasted about 20 minutes. She and her toddler returned from the appointment after 2:20 p.m. and knocked on Young's apartment door. After hearing no reply, the friend said she called Young's phone and heard someone silently pick up, then end the call. While her phone was still by her ear, the friend said Alliniece opened the door, grabbed her shirt and pulled her into the apartment, which was somewhat dark. Somehow, her toddler got in the room, too, and the door was closed behind her.

The friend said she saw Young lying face down and bloody behind Alliniece, who had blood on his face, arms and black, metallic sneakers. She also said his eyes looked bugged out of his head, and he was wet. Eventually, she realized her toddler was inside and tried to shield her from the seeing the bloody scene.

"When you see something like that, I just froze. It was awful," she said, adding that Alliniece took her phone when he pulled her in.

She testified that he also asked for cigarettes, took her lighter and set fire to some personal documents that included his name, which made the fire alarm go off and put him on edge. She told him how to extinguish the flames and disable the fire alarm to calm him.

The friend said Alliniece also called his mom on her phone at some point, confessed that he killed Young and asked her to call the police. When she didn't believe him, he put the phone on speaker and had the friend tell her what happened.

The friend said she didn't try to escape out the patio door because she didn't know initially that Young was dead, didn't know if the door was locked and couldn't chance it.

The friend said Alliniece told her multiple times that he killed Young, and jumped up and stomped on Young's head twice while she and her toddler were inside.

She also said he talked to Young's body, saying, "Why did you make me do this? You must have been suicidal to make me do this."

She said she asked to leave multiple times, begged for her phone and asked him to call 911, all of which he refused to do. Eventually, Alliniece covered Young's head with a towel because of the toddler.

After they heard a knock on the door, the friend said Alliniece got quiet, locked the door, then fled out the patio door with her phone, lighter, cigarettes and his burnt documents.

Moments later, Young's mom, Stacey Raspberry, entered the room and saw Young with her toddler and her daughter lying bloody in the floor.

Raspberry said she knew Alliniece from when he and Young first started dating in high school. When she heard she was letting him visit, she wasn't happy — she noticed the two of them bickered, and could tell her daughter wasn't happy. Alliniece never socialized with her.

Raspberry said before she arrived, her daughter had called her after 2 p.m., hysterical, and asked her to bring her some beer. She'd sensed something was bothering Young, so she went to the store, then went to the apartment around 3 p.m.

When she arrived, she said she kicked the door with her foot and heard whispers and the door locking.

"I thought they were playing a game with me, and it wasn't," she said, crying.

She said she heard the vertical blinds move and went in the patio door, where she witnessed the bloody scene.

She testified that she first asked the friend if she hurt her daughter. Eventually, the friend told her that Alliniece killed her, and she searched the apartment for him. Raspberry then went to her daughter's body — she said must have moved the towel from Young's head, but can't remember doing so.

She screamed, called out for help and called 911 after the blinds opened and let some light into the room, revealing the massive damage done to Young's head.

Raspberry said she felt Alliniece had returned at that moment and wanted to chase him, but her body shut down.

She also said she saw his bloody footprints all over the scene. The state's attorneys presented photographic evidence displaying the bloody scene, minus images of Young's body, which were covered with paper.

Raspberry said she supplied all the information she could to help police find Alliniece, and even contacted some people in Texas who might could help.

"I believe he outraged. He did a lot more than that," Raspberry said when she was cross-examined.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Walkley's courtroom.

Jamie Berry covers police and court news for The Transcript. Reach her at jberry@normantranscript.com, 366-3532 or @JamieStitches13.