Witness: Lufkin man said he 'offed' victim

Det. Ron Stubblefield on the stand
Det. Ron Stubblefield on the stand
Rebecca Drake
Rebecca Drake

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Testimony continued Thursday morning in a Lufkin man's murder trial with a witness testifying Joshua Handy said he "offed" 21-year-old Jerrard Jernigan.

Joshua Handy is accused of shooting Jernigan in April 2009 and leaving him to die on Cain Street.

Rebecca Drake told detectives, in a taped interview played for the jury, she was at a house on Sayers Street and, "All I heard is he [Handy] said he offed him."

Drake told the defense she bought crack from Handy and often cleaned Handy and his brothers' house in exchange for drugs. In the interview, the witness told detectives she knew Jernigan.

"You could ask Jerrard for anything and if he had it, he would give it to you," she said in the taped interview. "It's very [messed] up what they done."

Detectives questioned Drake what she meant when she said "they." She said, "When Handy had said he had offed him, he said him and his boys." She told detectives Handy had recently started smoking Wet around the time of the incident.

In the taped interview, Drake told detectives she heard on the street Handy and somebody else in a "gold SUV type-deal" chased him down and "beat his brains out." She said Handy never made the statement about "offing" Jernigan directly to her, she just heard him say, "He got what he deserved, is why I offed him."

Drake went on to tell police Handy almost always has a backpack with him. "Handy is a pistol-toting, he don't give a [darn,]" she said. Drake went on to tell police she knew Handy to fire his gun in the air down Lufkin streets. "It's like for him to pull a trigger is like a stress relief," she said.

When detectives questioned her if she knew what Handy thought about homosexuals, she said in the interview Handy can't stand "the gays" that run around on the "north side."

On the stand Drake told Handy's attorney, Michael Nguyen, Handy didn't like homosexuals because she heard him call them names. She said she had seen Jernigan at Handy's house a few times before he was killed. Drake testified she knew Jernigan was gay, and said Handy was not. She testified, to her knowledge, Jernigan did not do drugs.

District Attorney Clyde Herrington, asked Drake about Handy's drug use as well as her drug use.

Nguyen questioned Drake about changing the subject in her statement to detectives and in her responses on the stand. Drake said she was just telling what she knew.

The state called Ron Stubblefield, a detective with the Lufkin Police Department, to testify about his investigation of the murder case. He said when he arrived on the crime scene in April, "He [Jernigan] was lying on the curb in the gutter on Cain Street…there was a large pool of blood."

Herrington asked Stubblefield what police thought could have happened to Jernigan initially. "It looked like he [Jernigan] had been beat to death," explained Stubblefield. "He was swollen and had a lot of blood."

Stubblefield said the victim was seen at a club before he was killed. He said police worked to chase down rumors they were hearing about the victim being shot. He testified police received information that a couple boys were talking about the incident. However, Stubblefield explained the investigation was complicated by poor cooperation. He said residents in the area of Lufkin where the incident occurred were afraid to get involved. Stubblefield also said his department heard there were comments published on MySpace about the murder.

Stubblefield testified police executed a search warrant on the house where the defendant sometimes stayed. He said when police arrived several people were at the residence including, Handy and Jamarkus Dove, who testified yesterday.

Nguyen extensively questioned Stubblefield about the witnesses he relied on to write the affidavit. Nguyen asked Stubblefield if he was trying to build a case around Handy from the beginning. The detective responded that's not true. Stubblefield testified investigators tried to get Handy to talk with them, but never showed up. Nguyen asked him if he thought Handy would want to come speak with detectives after they ransacked his home.

"I don't ransack people's houses when I go on a search warrant," said Stubblefield.  He said that's not the policy of the Lufkin Police Department.

The defense questioned Stubblefield about why Handy was kept in jail for months before he was indicted for murder by a grand jury. Stubblefield said it was because Handy had other charges filed against him, including a burglary and aggravated assault charge.

Stubblefield said he originally investigated Ronald Murphy as a suspect in the case. Stubblefield said Murphy was eventually eliminated as a suspect. He talked about some other individuals that were initially suspects because of rumors that were going around.

Stubblefield said he spoke with Rufus Matts, but Matts repeated a lot of rumors he had heard. The detective testified Matts told him when he was walking with Jernigan, people would often call them names.

Nguyen went on to question the detective about why Handy was kept in jail for so long. Stubblefield pointed out Handy had other charges, including a drug charge, and the search warrant items still had to be sent off for testing. Stubblefield also pointed out police, "did not find a 9 mm gun," when they executed the search warrant.

Herrington questioned Stubblefield about the other initial suspects. The detective said they did not find any evidence that linked Murphy to the murder. He also said police didn't find a connection between a tan SUV and Jernigan's murder. He later said detectives thought the tan SUV had more of a connection with Matts.

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