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Murder trial underway

The murder trial of Lakievius Eleby got underway in Lamar superior court Wednesday morning with opening statements and witness testimony. Realtime trial updates follow… *************** ©The Herald Gazette/barnesville.com: This information may not be reprinted, broadcast or distributed electronically in any form or fashion without express consent. For reprint permission, e-mail news@barnesville.com. *************** In his opening, assistant district attorney Scott Johnston said Eleby and Shameik Spinks pushed their way into the home at 121 Westchester Drive where victim Danavan Bussey was killed just before 4 a.m. Dec. 5, 2010. Johnston said Eleby shot Bussey in the leg with a .22 pistol, Bussey panicked and grabbed the 12 guage Mossberg pump shotgun carried by Spinks and Spinks shot him in the face. He said Eleby and Spinks left Bussey bleeding to death and went looking for items to steal. “All they got was a purse belonging to Diamond Rhodes. They ran away with Danavan laying there bleeding to death,” Johnston told the jury. Johnston showed the jury photos of the gunshot wounds to Bussey’s leg and face. He said the third robber, Bryce Smith, stood at the door as a lookout and will testify Eleby was on the robbing crew. In her opening, defense attorney Pam Bettis argued Eleby was not at the scene but had been on the phone with his girlfriend and Spinks told others he left Eleby in the bed asleep when he went to rob the “college boys”. Bettis identified the robbing crew members as Spinks, Jamarris Williams and Jontravis Walker. Walker is Spinks’ first cousin while Eleby is a distant cousin, she told the jury. She said Bussey’s Glock pistol was found in a black bag along with black clothing at the home of Bonnie Banks – the same home where Spinks was arrested. She said Walker and Williams were also at the Banks home. 1st prosecution witness, Katie Smith, was on duty in the 911 center at the time of the shooting. The 911 tape was played. The panicked male caller was attempting to talk to Smith while screaming at Bussey to “Breathe, breathe, breathe!”. 2nd prosecution witness, BPD officer Johnathan Sutton, testified he was first to arrive on the scene, detained four females in pajamas who were fleeing the scene and did a primary sweep of the home. He said he saw no drugs but did see alcohol and said Bussey was badly wounded. The jury is made up of one black male, one black female, seven white females, and three white males. Eleby appeared in court in a light green suit with tie, all of which appeared to be new clothing. 3rd prosecution witness, EMT Brandt Harvil, testified he arrived at a chaotic scene at Westchester Drive just minutes after the shooting. “There were five to eight people in the house and a bunch of people in the yard screaming and crying,” Harvil said. He said he found Bussey lying in a pool of blood near a couch and moved the couch to treat him. Though he saw no signs of life, Harvil did CPR and, once Bussey was in the ambulance, an airway was established and IV inserted. Bussey was never revived. 4th prosecution witness, GBI crime scene specialist Todd Crosby, said he arrived at Westchester Drive at 6:50 a.m. Since no warrant to search the home where the shooting took place had been issued, he went to Spalding Regional Medical Center to view Bussey’s body. He found a small wound in the victim’s upper left thigh and the gaping shotgun wound in the right side of his face that still contained the wadding from the shotgun shell. “That told me the shooter was very close to the victim,” Crosby said. Though there was blood on top of Bussey’s foot, there was none on the bottoms of his feet. “That told me he went down right there,” Crosby said. Crosby said he went back to Westchester Heights to 209 Westchester Drive where the shotgun had been found in the backyard. Indentations in the grass indicated it had been thrown into the yard from the other side of a fence. There was a shell in the chamber of the shotgun that matched a spent, ejected shell found in the house near where the victim fell. Crosby said the gun was found 185 feet from back door of the murder scene home. The shells were Remington 7.5 birdshot. Crosby did blood splatter analysis in the home and found where a weapon had been fired in the home well before the murder. A bullet hole in the wall had been stuffed with toilet paper. Crosby told the court he found no fingerprints on the shotgun, the shells or the Glock pistol Bussey had in his possession and its ammo and magazine. Judge Tommy Wilson called a halt to proceedings for lunch at 11:54 a.m. Court will reconvene at 1:15 p.m. Bettis cross examined Crosby hammering on items that were not fingerprinted or tested for blood. She also elicited testimony from Crosby about punch holes in wall of Bussey’s home. Roommate Dewayne Johnson admitted making those punch marks because he was angry at situation. Johnson returned to get clothing due to cold temperatures. Johnson told Crosby he was forced by robbers to open drawers so they would not leave fingerprints. Crosby collected Bussey’s cellphone from a drawer. Bettis said all contacts in the phone had been erased before it was retrieved. 5th prosecution witness, Elmira Worthy, lived at 209 Westchester. She testified she found the shotgun in her backyard and called law enforcement. She also testified she heard noises about 4 a.m. on the morning of the shooting, opened her patio door and heard a woman screaming, “You done killed him. You done killed him.” Worthy said she saw no one. 6th prosecution witness, investigator Mark Barry of the Lamar sheriff’s office, said he answered Worthy’s call and secured shotgun until Crosby retrieved it. He said he did not touch it and allowed no one else to. 7th prosecution witness, GBI agent Cayce Ingalls, goes on the stand. Audio from two interviews with Eleby are introduced. At the time of the first, Eleby was brought in to police department but was not under arrest. During the second, he had been jailed. In the interview, Ingalls and BPD investigator Al Moltrum tell Eleby a murder warrant will be taken for him. He becomes combative. He surmises Spinks must have done the robbery with Bryce Smith and Quay (Quayvius or Laquavius Smith). In the interview, Eleby identifies Smith’s mother as Amy Banks and says she works at Aldora. “Shameik had a little revolver he got from Quay. It was an old gun – a .22 or .25. (Expletive) I don’t know.” He later says Spinks had the revolver in a black backpack and that Quay had stolen it from his grandfather. Eleby also says in the interview that he “seen a picture of the 12 gauge” and that Quay “stole it from some boy”. In the interview, Moltrum tells Eleby his story has been “blown out of the water”. Ingalls adds, “Nobody will tell us you were at your house but everybody says you were at the house where the guy got killed.” The court session ended at 5:35 p.m. with Judge Tommy Wilson warning jurors to neither discuss the case with anyone nor read coverage here on barnesville.com.

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