In a rare courtroom confrontation, a 15-year-old girl took the witness stand Thursday against the man accused of shooting her and killing her friend, both then 13, as they walked home from middle school two years ago.
Makayla Smith testified she felt “my blood run down my chest and down my stomach.” But, Smith testified, she was more concerned for her close friend, Lauren Landavazo, according to the Times Record News, a newspaper in Wichita Falls, Texas, where the shooting occured.
Smith was shot just once, but Landavazo was hit 15 times, including twice in the head, and was splayed on the ground, motionless. “Please let her live,” Smith recalled repeating to herself.
Smith’s testimony came during the first full day of the trial of Kody Austin Lott, charged with murder, assault and illegal weapons possession. Lott allegedly told police that the shooting was the devil’s doing, “because he planned and thought it out after talking to the devil about it,” as previously reported by Oxygen.com.
Lott, then 20, explained he had seen Landavazo walking home from school and was attracted to her, even though he knew she had a boyfriend, police say. Lott said that he didn’t have a girlfriend, so knowing Landavazo had a boyfriend made him angry, according to the warrant for his arrest.
Lott also faces three counts of possession of child pornography, after police allegedly found images of underage girls performing sex acts on one of the smartphones taken from the vehicle Lott was driving when he was arrested.
On the day of Landavazo’s killing, Lott allegedly armed himself with his step-father’s semi-automatic, AR-15 type .22 caliber rifle and waited by the window of his apartment watching for the girls to walk past. When Lott saw them, he jumped in his SUV, caught up with them and opened fire.
Lott’s defense is insanity, but Wichita County Criminal District Attorney Maureen Shelton said in her opening argument on Thursday that Lott committed a “calculated” murder, the Times Record News reported.
A seven-man, five-woman jury will decide the case.
Smith testified that she and Landavazo had been in classes together the year before the shooting at a Wichita Falls middle school and usually walked home from school together. Landavazo, Smith testified, was “very kind and open-minded. She was very positive about everything.”
So when class was dismissed on Sept. 2, 2016 Smith joined her friend for their usual walk home from school. Their path, she said, typically took them through an alleyway frequently used by other students at their school to walk home.
As they exited the far end of the alley, Smith said an SUV pulled up perpendicular to the girls, but on the other side of the street. She saw a young white male behind the wheel, with shaggy brown hair, a big nose and pimples, she said.
“I remember he stopped, and we all just kind of stopped walking,” Smith said. “We made eye contact for a few seconds,” then the man pulled out a gun and started shooting, she testified.
“He pointed it at me, and I got hit,” Smith said. “I thought I got hit in the middle of my chest because I couldn’t breathe.”
More shots followed, and Smith wondered why she wasn’t being hit, she testified, as tears began to flow from her eyes, the Times Record News reported.
She ran away, looked back, and that’s when she saw Landavazo laying on the ground, mortally wounded. She screamed the girl’s name, she said, but Landavazo didn’t respond.
Minutes later, as she was being placed into an ambulance for transport to the hospital, Smith saw Landavazo one last time.
“They put me on the gurney, and they were rolling me out to the ambulance,” Smith testified. “I saw Lauren, and she had a white sheet over her.”
The bullet Lott allegedly fired into Smith is still in her body, she said, a perpetual reminder of that deadly day.
Lott’s trial continues Friday.
[Photo: Wichita County Sheriff’s Dept.]