Tyrique King, of Chelwood Gardens, Bilston, is one of four men accused of killing Keelan Wilson, in Strathfield Walk, Wolverhampton, on May 29, 2018.
Keelan was stabbed more than 40 times near to his home as he got into a taxi with an associate, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Prosecutors claim the attack on Keelan was the result of an escalating feud between Wolverhampton’s V2 and V3 postcode gangs.
King was an alleged member of the V3 gang, which he denies.
He also denies murder, alongside fellow 19-year-old defendants Brian Sasa, of Long Ley, Heath Town, Zenay Pennant-Phillips, whose address cannot be published, and Nehemie Tampwo, of Fern Grove, Bletchley.
Coverage of the case:
Phillip Bradley QC, who is King’s defence counsel, told jurors in court: “There is no direct evidence he was among the group that attacked Keelan in Strathfield Walk. The attacking group acted as a team. We know in King’s agreed statement he was Keelan’s friend.
“Keelan had already climbed into the car [the taxi] and so the attackers were all over and about the car.” The court heard both Sasa’s and Pennant-Phillips’ DNA was found on the taxi. Tampwo also carried clothing to a Telford address the following day, containing Keelan’s DNA, which prosecutors say placed him at the scene. But Mr Phillips says there is no direct evidence placing King at the scene and says what is being used against him is merely “circumstantial”.
One piece of evidence prosecutors are citing is that King changed his clothes after the attack. The trial has also heard evidence that King met up at an address with the other alleged killers leading up to Keelan’s attack. But Mr Phillips said: “The case against him is based entirely on circumstantial evidence and changing his clothes is but one element of it.
“The inference is he knew the clothes would incriminate him.
“Here he was, within one hour of leaving [that address], he must have mixed with murderers and changed his clothing.” Mr Phillips said King was involved in a “culture” that saw him carry weapons. But he argued that King’s choice to do so, or his alleged association with V3, should not be enough to convict him of murder. He said: “Tyrique King was another depressing example in a long list of people who in this culture carried weapons.
“The real danger with in this case is one or more could be convicted of murder because they were associated with V3, or because they carried weapons, or a combination of the two. It is not enough.
“This man cannot be convicted on the basis of guilty by association.
“There are plenty of others not in the dock who would tick all of the same boxes.” King was aged 16 at the time of Keelan’s attack, while the other defendants were 17.
The trial continues.