Jurors hear testimony in Beckley murder trial




  • In US
  • 2021-03-03 16:32:00Z
  • By Tribune Publishing

Mar. 3-A former worker at Walmart in Beckley told jurors Tuesday that he had been having a cheeseburger in a nearby parking lot while on his lunch break May 6 when he "saw a flash" and "heard a noise" and then noticed a man had been shot.

Douglas Grubb offered the testimony Tuesday in the first degree murder trial of Tremaine Jackson, charged in the May 6 shooting death of 39-year-old Troy Lee Williams of Summers County in the parking lot of Pet Supplies Plus at the sprawling Cranberry Creek Shopping Plaza.

In addition to murder, Jackson is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm for both counts, bringing the total to four charges.

Grubb said that he was working at Walmart, which is beside of Pet Supplies Plus, on May 6. He took his break at 6 p.m. and pulled his vehicle to the pet shop lot to park and eat.

"I saw a flash. I heard a noise," Grubb testified, under questioning by Raleigh County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Parsons. "There was a car when I pulled in.

"There was two people talking outside around the back."

Grubb said he saw two black men - one bald, and one with six-inch dreadlocks - talking at the back of the vehicle, which he described as a white car. He said a man and two women were in the car.

A maroon SUV was parked on the other side of the white vehicle, Grubb said.

"That's where they were standing," he explained. "Between the two cars.

"I saw, like a flash, and I heard the noise, but I didn't associate it, at first, with what it was," he said. "The bald gentleman fell to the ground, and the other guy who shot came around the back of it, kind of like holding the gun towards him, and the driver got out."

Grubb later testified the gun was black and silver and appeared to be a handgun.

He testified that the driver of the white car, dressed in purple, got out of the car and appeared to be trying to help the shooter get into the white car.

"He went to grab, like, a grocery bag, a Walmart type bag," said Grubb, adding that the bag broke and spilled things on the ground.

"He got in the car, and they took off," testified Grubb.

Grubb said he got out of his car, called 911 and tried to watch where the white car was headed.

Grubb said around 20 people had gathered in the parking lot. Grubb testified that he cut the bleeding man's shirt to try to find the wound.

"He never said a word," Grubb reported, adding that Williams took a deep breath before the ambulance arrived. Grubb and others helped move Williams to the gurney.

An off-duty West Virginia State Police trooper, Nicholas Booth, was at the shopping complex with his wife when Williams was shot. He applied pressure to the wound and waited for the ambulance.

Another officer, Cpl. Timothy Hughes, was the first to arrive. He testified that Williams did not identify a shooter but said, "I'm going to die. I'm going to die," according to a WVVA report.

----Defense attorney Kris Kostenko said in his opening argument that the defense would present reasonable doubt about the identity of the shooter.

He raised questions about whether Grubb had seen a man or a woman dressed in purple. He had Grubb testify that the length of the shooter's dreadlocks was no longer than six inches.

Police arrested Jackson in North Carolina in August for Williams' murder.

Jackson was on parole for shooting to death Bryan Rogers in December 2015 on Charleston's West Side over an illegal drug deal. Jackson pleaded guilty to manslaughter for Rogers' shooting in 2017, following two mistrials. He entered a Kennedy plea, which means he pleaded guilty but did not admit guilt.

He was on parole for Rogers' murder when Williams was murdered in Beckley.

The presiding judge, Robert A. Burnside, Jr., had ruled last week that jurors will not hear of Jackson's guilty plea in Rogers' shooting. On Tuesday, the judge did permit Charleston Police Department Cpl. John Weaver, a detective, to testify under questioning by Parsons that he was familiar with a firearm in Kanawha County that was related to the Williams case.

Following objections by Kostenko and a lengthy discussion at the judge's bench outside of jurors' hearing, Parsons gave Weaver a November 2017 sentencing order from a Kanawha County Circuit Court judge for Jackson of voluntary manslaughter. The order was permitted into evidence, and Weaver said he had worked the case.

Parsons questioned Weaver about the gun, a Smith and Wesson .358 pistol that had been in a storage unit on the West Side of Charleston, in a denim backpack.

Burnside directed jurors that they could only consider Weaver's testimony for Jackson's third and fourth charges, which are two counts of possession of a firearm.

LaToya Carter, arrested a day after Williams' murder and was charged with being an accessory after the fact, testified that she had been offered a plea deal, according to WVVA reporting.

Carter told jurors that she was one of the women who had driven with Jackson from Charleston to Beckley to "fake" a drug deal with Williams. Carter said she had planned to meet Williams, buy rock salt and "get one over on him" and that when Williams sat down in her rental car at Pet Supplies Plus to test the rock salt, a woman in the backseat put a gun to Williams' head.

Carter said she is the one who told Williams to get out of the car and that both Jackson and Williams left. She testified that she later heard a gunshot, according to a report by WVVA.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The West Virginia medical examiner, a firearms expert and a co-defendant are expected to testify.

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