Witness testimony questioned in double murder
HUNTINGTON -- One of the few witnesses who claims to have seen Thomas Maurice White the day two Detroit drug dealers were gunned down two years ago in Huntington was caught by surveillance cameras possibly eavesdropping on testimony from the prosecution's star witness in White's trial.
A video from the Cabell County Courthouse's surveillance system outside of Judge Paul T. Farrell's courtroom shows Shaquille Hayes, 22, of Huntington, leaning against the courtroom door for nearly half an hour during testimony Tuesday afternoon.
That was when Rocky Williams was on the witness stand. Williams was a co-defendant in the case who has pleaded no contest to a count of second-degree murder and guilty to a count of first-degree robbery in relation to the Nov. 6, 2012, incident in Huntington's Fairfield neighborhood.
White, 22, is accused of killing Darrell Fugua, 22, and DeVante Penn, 17, both of Detroit, after he and Williams had allegedly planned to rob the two of drugs and split the profits from selling what they took. The video shows Williams going into the courtroom shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, and Hayes appearing outside and meeting with defense investigator Daniel Lane at 2:04.
After Lane re-enters the courtroom, Hayes moves up and presses himself against the door. He moves away and sits down several times as people pass in the hall or emerge from the courtroom, and then goes back to the door until a bailiff appears and tells Hayes to leave at about 2:30. The video was played during cross-examination after Hayes testified on behalf of the defense on Thursday.
Hayes claimed he wasn't trying to eavesdrop on anyone.
"I wanted to come in (to the courtroom)," he said. "If it was looking like I was doing the wrong thing, I'm sorry."
He said he was trying to get the time from someone, and people were ignoring him, adding that he wasn't aware of the court rules regarding separation of witnesses.
"I wasn't trying to intentionally listen in," he said. "I'm not hip to the whole court thing."
Hayes testified he had seen White at around 9 a.m. the day of the incident.
He said White was in a car in his driveway, along with another man he knew only as "Tim."
Hayes said he got into the car and the three smoked marijuana for about 15 minutes.
That afternoon, he said, he was walking to the Boys and Girls Club to play basketball when he saw Williams.
He said he hadn't seen Williams for a long time, and asked him if he wanted to come back to his home on Lynn Street to smoke marijuana.
Williams agreed, Hayes said, and the two started heading back toward his house, when Williams turned up an alley, saying he had "dropped something."
"I don't know what he was looking for," Hayes said. "We just went up the alley and I noticed there were a lot of cops around."
He said police swarmed them and told them to get on the ground.
"I just heard them say, 'Rocky Williams, you're wanted for murder,'" Hayes said.
Lane also testified Thursday, mainly on records recovered from three of seven cellphones retrieved from the scene of the shooting.
Two of the phones were identified as belonging to Williams and White. A third phone, an Apple iPhone 4GS recovered from a bed at the house where the shooting took place, could not be identified as to whom it belonged.
The defense tried to assert that White couldn't have been with Williams at the time of the shooting, noting that Williams called White's phone several times the morning of the incident when the two were supposedly together.
The phone records also indicated Williams had a relationship with Penn, as the two made frequent calls to each other before the incident, while White's phone records do not show any such connection.
The defense still intends to call Huntington Police Det. Chris Sperry, and possibly Lt. John Williams, in an admitted effort to undermine the credibility of Williams' testimony.
Farrell gaveled the trial into recess until Monday morning. The defense and prosecution will meet at 8:45 a.m. to discuss possible jury instructions, while the jury is expected to be called in at 10:30.
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