Zion Foster murder trial begins with mother, boyfriend, suspect's ex-girlfriend testifying

Posted at 7:25 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 19:29:33-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Testimony started on Tuesday in the Jaylin Brazier murder trial. He's accused of killing his step-cousin Zion Foster in January of 2022.

The 17-year-old's body has never been found.

It was an emotional day for Foster’s family including her father James Royster.

Foster's mother, boyfriend and Brazier's ex-girlfriend were among the witnesses to testify Tuesday.

Her mother, Ciera Milton, was the first witness called to testify.

She was asked about the night of Jan. 4, 2022. That’s the night the her daughter and Brazier hung out at his home on Detroit’s west side.

Watch Milton's testimony in the video player below:

Zion Foster's mother testifies at trial for suspect in Zion's murder

The prosecutor asked Milton to recall one of her conversations with Brazier after Foster’s disappearance.

“He said, uh, that they were smoking together and that he looks over and she was just dead, and then he says he panicked,” she recalled.

Milton said Brazier initially denied spending time with Foster and claimed it had been a while.

Before she took the stand, attorneys for both sides presented their opening statements.

Ryan Elsey, Wayne County assistant prosecutor, said “Although he got rid of Zion’s body, you will see that he left behind a trail of digital evidence that is damning and will show you that the circumstances all lead to one and only one explanation for why Zion left his house in the trunk of his car that, and that’s because he murdered her.”

Watch opening statements from the prosecution below:

Prosecutor gives opening statement in trial for Jaylin Brazier

Brian Brown is Brazier’s attorney. During his opening statements and questioning witnesses, Brown mentioned Foster allegedly wanting to kill herself, that she took medication for depression and possibly being prone to seizures.

“Now, Jaylin was scared. He might not have made the right decision, but that does not make him a murderer. He panicked, did something that he shouldn’t have by dumping the body, but he admitted to that,” Brown said.

Watch opening statements from the defense below:

Defense attorney gives opening statement in trial for Jaylin Brazier

“Now, it is unfortunate that the body was never recovered because had that body be recovered, then they would be able to substantiate what Jaylin told them. That, she either had seizure. It could have been something laced in the marijuana. We don’t know,” the attorney said.

Brazier became emotional during part of his ex-girlfriend's testimony.

Katrina Smith, who's also the mother of his three children, said Brazier never brought up Foster.

According to text messages with Smith from a phone smuggled into the prison, Brazier allegedly sent Smith website links questioning if someone could be charged with murder if there's no evidence and if a body hasn't been found.

Testimony resumes Wednesday morning.