Responding officers, officers involved in the shooting and state homicide investigators all took turns on the stand during the first week of testimony in the Grand Forks murder trial of Salamah Pendleton.
The week illuminated never-before-heard details of what happened in the South 17th Street apartment where a Grand Forks woman and a Grand Forks police officer were fatally shot in May 2020. Pendleton is accused of initiating gunfire on two Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies when they attempted to evict him and his mother, Lola Moore, from their apartment.
He is facing two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count each of criminal mischief, terrorizing, reckless endangerment and possession of marijuana with intent to sell it. If convicted of murder, he could face up to life in prison.
This report was produced for the Herald's Saturday print edition, which was due to publish before the conclusion of Friday's proceedings. For the latest in-depth coverage of the Pendleton trial, visit grandforksherald.com throughout the day.
Following is a recap of the trial's key moments during the past week.
On Friday, July 2, several Grand Forks police officers and sheriff's deputies testified to what they witnessed outside the apartment building while the shooting was underway, and what they found inside the apartment after the gunfire had ended. Several of Pendleton's neighbors also described their own perspective of what happened when the shooting broke out.
The second week of trial began with the testimony of the three surviving officers who were involved in the shooting: Grand Forks Sheriff's Office deputies Cpl. Ron Nord and Sgt. Kelly McLean, and Grand Forks Police Cpl. Pat Torok. All three officers' body camera footage was shown.
McLean told the jury that after Pendleton refused to open the front door after officers were called to serve an eviction, the deputies unlocked it with a key given to them by the apartment manager and went inside, where McLean said he saw Pendleton retreat to a bedroom. Moore, Pendleton's mother, was also in the apartment, but did not respond to deputies when they informed her they were there to evict him, McLean said.
McLean's body camera footage shows the deputies asking Pendleton to come out of the bedroom, where Pendleton insisted the officers were violating his right to due process, and were infringing on his constitutional rights.
Footage appears to show that Pendleton opened fire immediately after Nord kicked down his bedroom door, apparently inadvertently killing Moore when a bullet traveled through his bedroom wall and struck her in the head.
The deputies stayed behind cover in the apartment for several minutes until Holte and Torok arrived, when Pendleton, distraught by the death of his mother and apparently believing police had killed her, initiated a second round of shooting. Holte was fatally shot during this volley, and Nord was shot in the leg and abdomen. The shooting ended when Pendleton suffered several gunshot wounds on his legs.
The incident lasted about 14 minutes.
On Wednesday, July 7, state homicide investigators described the chaos they found in the apartment after the shooting ended, with bullet holes from floor to ceiling and shell casings, broken glass and blood covering the floor. During a search of the residence, investigators found evidence that Pendleton had been selling marijuana out of the apartment. They also located a legal dictionary in the living room, which they say had been left open to a page on justifiable homicide.
And on Thursday, July 8, more state investigators described their process for reconstructing the crime scene and the shooting. By mapping the paths of the shots fired, they testified they were able to determine where Pendleton was when he fired his weapon. Although investigators' analysis left room for interpretation as to whether Pendleton was aiming at officers or firing indiscriminately, one investigator testified he believes Pendleton was aiming for police.