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Victim’s roommate fingers Eleby, Spinks

The roommate of murder victim Danavan Bussey testified Friday in Lamar superior court that he was sure the two men who burst into his home when his friend was killed were Lakievius Eleby and Shameik Spinks. Eleby is on trial here for murder. *************** ©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. *************** As he did at a previous hearing, 15th prosecution witness Tyrone Holmes said he had known Eleby for months and had seen Spinks the evening before the early morning murder and recognized them when they attacked him. Holmes said he and his roommates were having one last party at the house at 121 Westchester Drive before they moved out due to break-ins. They felt Eleby was responsible for the burglaries. ”I seen his face that night,” Holmes said before pointing out Eleby in the courtroom. On cross-examination, defense attorney Pam Bettis elicited from Holmes that he had served two months in jail just prior to the killing in Henry County on a marijuana charge. She pointed out inconsistencies in his first statement to police but Holmes steadfastly held by his contention Eleby and Spinks were responsible. The next witness was the first for the defense, taken out of order due to scheduling conflicts. Dr. Jeffrey Neuschatz, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, is an expert on eyewitness identification. He said the fact that the witnesses in the case only saw parts of the faces of the intruders and that alcohol and possibly drugs were involved could impact their ability to identify the suspects. He also noted crime victims often focus on weapons used rather than the faces of those with the weapon. On cross-examination, assistant district attorney got Neuschatz to admit the fact those in the house were already familiar with Eleby would aid in identification and that, from what the professor had learned, the parties knew each other. The 16th prosecution witness, Ardrana Pate, lives just up the street from the Westchester Drive home where the murder took place. She told the court Eleby, Spinks, Bryce Smith and Ashley Parker were at her house drinking in the hours before the attack. She said she heard them say the victims would be a “sweet lick” but thought they were joking. She also said Eleby asked Spinks to “show him the piece’ and opened a backpack looking for a pistol. Pate also said Bussey and his roommates had come to her door following one of the break-ins at their home and Holmes had a gun in his hand. On cross-examination, Bettis painted Pate as the neighborhood troublemaker. She got her to admit erasing a text message from Smith from her phone after the killing because she was scared she would lose her five kids. “You were playing both ends against the middle. You were worried because you heard Elmira Worthy had heard a woman screaming and they thought it was you. You started giving the police information,” Bettis charged. Bettis noted Pate said Eleby was “respectful” in her first police interview but termed him a “troublemaker” in the second. Proceedings broke for lunch at 11:40 a.m. Bryce Smith is expected to testify against Eleby when court resumes at 1 p.m. After lunch, the prosecution’s 17th witness Ashley Parker took to stand. She testified she was at Pate’s home on the night of the robbery/slaying with Eleby, Spinks and Bryce Smith. She, Eleby and Spinks then went to Eleby’s garage to drink and smoke. Eleby gave Spinks a bandanna and said, “You can use this”. The prosecution’s star, 18th witness Bryce Smith took the stand. He said he and Eleby had been friends since childhood and that he met Spinks the summer before the killing. Smith described the crime thusly, “I was in the kitchen and went out on my porch to smoke. They was coming down the street dressed all in black. Spinks had the shotgun and Eleby had a pistol. I jumped off my porch and ran over to the house. They knocked on the door and went in. I was on the porch looking in and out. They asked for everything. Dan was trying to calm everything down. I heard the shots and I ran. I heard two shots. The first was loud but the second was louder,” Smith said. He went on to say he saw Eleby and Spinks run from the home and throw the shotgun over the fence at the Worthy home. He said he went to the home of his girlfriend Sheniece Burnside and told her “everything went wrong”. On cross-examination, Bettis noted Smith had given multiple different statements to police regarding his involvement. She accused him of lying and said her opinion was he wasn’t even at the crime scene. She again surmised that Jontravis Walker and Jamarris Williams were with Spinks. She went over his text messages and the timing and said, “You were on the front porch sending text. You sound like the most relaxed guy I ever met while committing an armed robbery,” Bettis challenged. Smith stuck by his story. “I wish I never would have did it,” he said. On redirect Smith said he knew he could withdraw his plea. He insisted the two who went in the home and shot Bussey were Eleby and Spinks. The prosecution’s 19th witness, Sheniece Burnside, testified Bryce Smith came to her home on B Street after the incident. He told her they went to make some money and everything went wrong. ‘He named Lekievius. He said everybody had guns but him. He said he heard a gunshot and was pretty sure Lekievius fired the shot,” Burnside said. The prosecution’s 20th witness was Danavan Bussey Sr., the victim’s father. He said his son had been to Atlanta to a recording studio to work the day before he was killed and dropped by to eat with him in McDonough. The elder Bussey told his son when he left for Barnesville to be up at 7:30 a.m. because he was coming to move him out of the house due to the break-ins. ”I was at the Quik Trip gassing up on the way down here when Marcus Gay’s mom called and told me Danavan had been shot in the face,” the dead man’s father said. With that, the prosecution rested its case. The defense will begin presenting its case Monday morning at 9 a.m.

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