This is the follow-up to the jury duty freak show.
We walked into the courtroom and there two black teenage boys seated at a table wearing clothes that didn’t fit them. They looked like kids we see all across America every day. I figured they were in trouble for something simple like possession or underage drinking. Then the judge read the indictments: Malice murder, Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault, and so on. There were 10 indictments altogether. Both boys, and another one who wasn’t present, were charged with all ten.
I felt kind of sick, and also relieved we were surrounded by armed officers. I hate to admit it but my opinion of the boys changed instantly. They stopped looking like kids in trouble. They started looking like murderers. I reminded myself they’re both innocent until proven otherwise and studied them a little more. One kid looked angry and refused to make eye contact with any of us. The other looked terrified and occasionally scanned the crowd like he was hoping one of us might save him.
After a million questions by the lawyers on both sides, I was selected as one of the 12 jurors. Later I was selected as the foreperson.
On the first day of the trial the judge told us the angry-looking boy had plead out after the jury was selected. We would only be trying the terrified one. The first one would be tried separately and was still incarcerated. I wondered why our guy didn’t plead out. I wanted to believe it was because he was innocent and hoping the system would protect him.
The judge swore us in and the state’s two lawyers began their opening remarks with phrases like, “senseless execution,” “premeditated murder,” and “died in his own living room.”
I felt even sicker than I did earlier.
Was I really sitting 10 feet away from a kid who killed someone on purpose?
The defense’s opening remarks were direct and brief, “The evidence will show that my client was not there. He is not guilty.”
Then we heard the testimony of the state’s first four eye witnesses: the deceased’s live-in girlfriend (Laney), their house guests (Sue and Dwayne), and the deceased’s friend (Jimmy).
The person we wouldn’t be hearing from was Mr. Thompson (known as Beezie), the victim of the murder.
Laney, a tiny blonde girl in her 20’s, testified first. Beezie told her he received a phone call about a TV he wanted to buy and said it would be delivered that evening. Laney put $80 on the coffee table ready to give in exchange for the TV. The group had ordered a pizza and was watching movie on the couch when the knock at the door came. Beezie let in four guys. One of them was carrying the TV and suggested Beezie plug it in to make sure it worked. When he bent over near the outlet he was shot in the back four or five times. Laney heard the shots and then saw her boyfriend on the floor, but she didn’t see who shot him. Jimmy and Dwayne ran to the bedrooms and jumped out the window. Laney’s friend, Sue, was held at gunpoint by the boy who plead out while the other guys walked Laney around the house to get money. Beezie was still alive and begging them not to hurt the girls. Laney gave them her money, and on their way out of the house one of them shot Beezie in the head and killed him. They sped out of the driveway but then came back for the TV before leaving for good.
When Laney was cross-examined it was revealed that in her initial statement there were only three guys present and she described all three. Today there were four. She also said she didn’t know any of them, which didn’t make sense because it was obvious she knew the defendant. It also came out that three suspects were identified shortly after the murder. Two of them are a part of this case but the third one is still out there. Our guy didn’t enter the picture until six months later. Laney’s ID of him was 75% and there was no other evidence connecting him to the scene. Her ID of the boy of who plead out was 100%. When she was asked why her description fits the first two suspects but not our guy, and why she earlier said there were three and now she’s saying there were four, she said she was “in shock” and “just guessing.”
Then Sue took the stand. She couldn’t remember anything other than someone having a gun in her face. She wasn’t able to positively ID the defendant in a line-up but said she felt sure he was there. She also wasn’t clear if there were three guys or four.
Then Jimmy took the stand. He said he was seated on the couch when the shots were fired, but he didn’t see who did it. He had been friends with Beezie for 15 years.
Finally Dwayne took the stand and said he overheard an argument Beezie had earlier in the day with a guy who used to rent a room in the house (he’s known as Senior-Boy). It was something about a Polo shirt and Beezie threatened him with a gun. Dwayne now rented the same room and took Senior-Boy’s place as the resident tattoo artist. He thought it was weird that more than one guy came to the door to sell a 32″ TV, but he figured that’s why Beezie answered the door with a gun. He was sitting on the couch when he heard the shots – then he ran. He didn’t see who shot Beezie.
The day’s testimony and evidence showed the following inconsistencies:
Photos of the crime scene showed french fries on the floor but no sign of pizza.
The front door is visible from all angles on the couch.
The TV Laney said the guys came back for was still beside the body in the crime scene photos.
The house where the murder took place was equipped with surveillance cameras at the front door but it wasn’t set up to record.
Laney moved out of the house and it was empty two days after the murder.
The crew took money from Laney only. Sue’s purse was in plain sight but was untouched. Beezie died with $80 in his pocket.
None of the four eye witnesses could positively identify the defendant in a line-up.
None of the four eye witnesses could say who shot Beezie.
Do you think our guy was part of the crew that night? Who do you think shot Beezie?
Next post: scoop from the detectives, defendant #1, the medical examiner and ballistics specialist.
Note: I changed all the names in this post so I don’t get murdered in a parking lot.