New trial begins for 5 men accused in 2 killings
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A new murder trial started Friday for five alleged gang members charged in two killings, even as the parents of two defendants were arrested for intimidating a juror in a previous trial.
The Savannah Morning News reports opening statements began Friday after a judge declared a mistrial in the previous trial on Oct. 26.
A prosecutor told jurors Friday that the defendants and their families have attempted to intimidate witnesses and a juror to keep the truth hidden.
“The defendants have done absolutely everything they could to keep you people from hearing the truth about what happened,” Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon told a Chatham County Superior Court jury. “That’s what this gang has done and that’s the terror they’re trying to spread.”
On trial are Kevin Smith, Roderick Parrish, Jordan Campbell and Shacqeal Sanders, all 26, and 27-year-old Henry Speaks. Smith, Parish and Campbell are accused in the shooting of 21-year-old Rebecca Foley. Sanders and Speaks face charges in the death of 33-year-old James Pastures.
Roderick Parrish, Smith and Campbell are charged in the killing of Foley, a 21-year-old Savannah State University student. Prosecutors say the three are gang members who tried to rob Foley and that she was shot once while trying to flee in her car.
Prosecutors say Pastures was driving others in his car when Foley was killed. They say Sanders and Speaks shot Pastures to death in 2015 after gang members suspected he was informing to police.
All five have pleaded not guilty. Jurors will begin hearing evidence on Monday.
Police on Friday arrested Robert Parrish Sr. and Ann Parrish, both 48, on charges of threatening jurors.
Parrish is the father of defendants Roderick Parrish and Jordan Lamar Campbell. Ann Parrish is Campbell’s mother and Roderick Parrish’s stepmother. Police say video shows a purple GMC Yukon stopping next to a juror’s vehicle and the occupants saying something to the juror. Prosecutors say Robert and Ann Parrish were inside and the vehicle was found at their home. Prosecutors say the couple have denied any contact with the juror and denied driving the route shown by video surveillance. It was unclear if the couple had lawyers to speak for them.
Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot allowed prosecutors to include evidence of intimidation because of what she said was an alleged “long plan to be disruptive and violate the court’s rules ... an ongoing effort to interfere with these proceedings.”
She told defense lawyers they could challenge that evidence during the trial presentation.
Previously, Abbot ordered Yusef Sanders, 47, the father of co-defendant Shacqeal Sanders, jailed for criminal contempt of court after she found he had violated the court’s instructions against discussing what occurred in the courtroom during trial.
That action followed allegations by prosecutors that the elder Sanders had attempted to intimidate witnesses and had family members in the courtroom feeding him information.
Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com