Opening arguments began a week ago in the trial of Shams Masters, the man accused of killing a Tyler teen in 1999.
Masters is charged with the February 1999 death of William Thomas Young. Young was born in November of 1980 and attended Robert E. Lee High School. He was shot to death at age 18 by a gunshot wound to the head. His body was found in a wooded area that is now the Woodland Estates, near Flint. Young's body was found on the morning of February 18, 1999 by a man waking his dog.
Below are live updates posted by our reporter in the courtroom from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., scroll down for day 6:
Shams Masters' Trial Day 1
Masters pleas not guilty.
The State begins their opening argument.
The prosecution tells the jury up front that Young was a kid headed down the wrong path. The prosecutor says Young had multiple nicknames (Kilo and Locke) and sold drugs. Police found a small bag of marijuana on Young's body. Young no longer lived with his parents. He'd been moving around, staying with friends and staying in hotels. Through a crime stoppers tip, detectives are lead to a duplex on Aberdeen in Tyler. The tipster said Young, Masters and two other people were selling drugs out of the duplex. When police arrive at the house, they find four guys in one room and Masters locked in another room. Police begin questioning the men without telling them they've found Young's body. Police get different stories from the men inside the house on when the last time they saw Young was.
During an autopsy, the bullet retrieved from Young's head appears to be a 30 caliber, meaning it could have come from a variety of guns.
In the meantime, Tyler police were investigating a different case involving a woman, when she says she has information about Young's murder. The woman says Masters has been very paranoid lately and recently got mad at Young, accusing him of stealing his rent money. Police obtain a search warrant for a blue Toyota Camry based on information they've obtained from tips. Police later obtain more search warrants for a Pinecrest Mobile Home, the Aberdeen residence and Master's new home. Police found nothing at the Aberdeen home and found drugs at the mobile home.
A man named Mr. Tyler saw on the news that Masters was a suspect in a murder and Mr. Tyler became very concerned that he was in possession of the murder weapon because he'd leant a gun to Masters. Because Mr. Tyler is a drug dealer, he begins to panic. He wipes down all of his guns with motor oil and buries them in the ground. Then he calls the Sheriff's office and turns in the weapon Masters borrowed, which Tyler believes to be the murder weapon, to a detective.
In the Toyota Camry, detectives find the blood of Young.
The State goes on to explain that Young was Masters' crack cocaine dealer and when Young moved in, it put a strain on Masters' drug dealing and virtually cut him out of the business because with Young around there was no need for Masters to be the middle man.
The State tells the jury they will hear from a witness who was at the Aberdeen residence the last time Young was seen. That witness will testify that Masters and Young had left with a bag of cocaine and hours later Masters returned with the cocaine and without Young.
The defense begins their opening argument.
The defense says there is no evidence that connects Masters to the crime. The attorney says there were no fingerprints, footprints, hair follicles, other DNA evidence, eye witnesses , or gun residue on Masters' clothes he was wearing the supposed night of the murder to put him at the crime scene.
The defense says as much as Masters' name is linked to this crime, so is the name of Aaron Vaughn, the other roommate at 4313 Aberdeen and the owner of the Blue Toyota Camry.
The defense attorney says the evidence will show tips pointing toward Masters came in from Amber McMillin. The defense says McMillin was the girlfriend of Vaughn.
The defense says when the evidence concludes, there will be more than a reasonable doubt in their minds that Masters committed the crime.
The State calls Max Bishop. Bishop says he was waking his dog on the morning of February 18 and the dog ran off into the woods. He says that's where he found Young's body and ran back to the road to tell his daughter to call 9-1-1.
The defense asks Bishop if he had walked his dog in the same area the day before. He says he did not. Bishop tells the defense attorneys he could see the area the body was found from his house, but wasn't able to see the body from his house. Bishop says he could smell an odor as he got closer. He said there was very little traffic in his neighborhood because it was a cul-de-sac. Bishop says he recalls seeing a blue or light blue car coming from the area where the body was found 3-4 days before he saw the body. He adds he saw this car during the day and not at night. He adds that he may have seen the car more than once but can't be sure.
State calls Jason Waller. Waller is currently a professor of criminal justice at Tyler Junior College. Waller is a former Tyler Police Officer and Smith County Sheriff's office detective. He still holds his peace officer's license.
Waller describes the crime scene to the jury. Pictures from the crime scene are published to the jury as Waller explains where the body was found. The State goes on to show pictures of Young's body at the crime scene. The images of the decomposing body become increasingly graphic.
Waller tells the jury he has reviewed numerous dead bodies throughout his career. He says he would estimate the body had been in the woods for 2-4 days.
The State has Waller open bags of evidence he sealed in 1999. These bags contain Young's clothing worn at the crime scene.
Judge Kennedy calls a 15 minute recess.
After the recess, more bags of evidence containing Young's clothing are published to the jury, including a green T-shirt and camo pants. Waller then explains fingerprints taken from the body and how those were used to ID Young through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Information Services).
Waller tells the jury about his investigation leading him to a duplex on Aberdeen. Waller says there he met a man named Aaron Vaughn. Vaughn told officers he was home alone and his roommate Shams Masters was at work. When the officers became suspicious that others were in the house, they requested to gain entry. Inside the house they found six more men, including Shams Masters locked in his room, despite Vaughn saying Masters was at work.
The general story from the men inside was that William Young was at the Aberdeen residence on February 15 watching wrestling. Waller says after Masters had a chance to talk to Vaughn, the story changed to February 8th being the day they watched wrestling.
The State begins going over more evidence, including blood collected from the victim and the bullet collected from the victim's head. Waller says they could then begin narrowing down the type of gun the bullet came from.
The State passes the witness.
The defense goes back over photographs of the crime scene and pictures of what appears to be blood on the curb. Waller testifies that investigators did not find any drag marks, footprints, shoe prints or boot prints near the crime scene.
Recess until 1:15pm for lunch.
After lunch, Waller is still on the stand. He testifies that none of Young's blood was found on Masters' clothing collected by detectives.
The defense asks Waller if Masters' story changed about the last time he'd seen Young. Waller says Masters and Vaughns' stories change after they speak to each other. The defense attorney, Mr. Thompson, asks Waller who the Toyota Camry belonged to. Waller says the vehicle was registered to Aaron Vaughn.
Waller says there was a fairly large amount of blood in the vehicle. Waller says three pieces of paperwork inside the Camry were paperwork pertaining to Shams Masters.
Waller explains to the jury the difficulties of collecting evidence at an outdoor crime scene versus an indoor crime scene.
Waller tells the jury the absence of trace evidence-- like hair-- doesn't exclude someone from the crime scene. Waller says from his investigation, he concluded that Young was killed inside a vehicle. In photos of the crime scene, Young's pants are down around his ankles. The defense asks if that's something that could be consistent with a person wearing loose pants being dragged many feet from one place to another. Waller says its a possibility.
State calls the next witness, Dr. Joanie McClaine. McClaine performed the autopsy on Young for the Dallas County Medical Examiner in 1999.
Photographs taken of Young's body during autopsy are shown to the jury. McClaine says Young died of bleeding out through the corroded artery or jugular vein. She says she cannot tell how long Young had been dead. She says it was likely less than three days but could have been four days depending on the weather.
State calls their next witness, Rosiland Young, the victim's mother.
Rosalind tells the jury about the day investigators told her that her first born, the victim, William Young Jr. had been killed. She tells the jury a Super Bowl party on Jan 31, 1999 was the last place she saw her son. She explains to the jury that she was the one who gave her son the nickname Locke. She says it came from a song that they used to sing and dance to when he was a baby. She says the last time she heard from her son was Feb 10 when he called her up at work. Rosalind begins to cry as she tells the jury how William was the love of her life. She says he was her first born child and she didn't even choose to have more kids until he was 9 1/2 years old. Rosalind says William quit school about a year before graduation. She said since he was 18 and an adult he didn't check in with his parents all the time anymore. She says she had no idea he was selling drugs and didn't find out until after his death. She says Rosiland and her husband, William Young Sr. still financially supported Locke.
One defense attorney acknowledges that she knows Rosalind and they go way back, primarily because Rosalind works for Smith County. The defense attorney offers her condolences to Rosalind concerning the loss of her son.
The State calls William Young, the victim's father. Young testifies that he did not know about his son's involvement with drugs. He tells the jury that behavior would not be condoned in their house so he's not surprised his son kept his drug dealings hidden from his parents. Young tells the jury Michael Moses aka "Little Mike" was a close friend of their son.
The State calls Michael Moses to the stand.
The State begins by going over Little Mike's criminal history from 1998-present.
He has been arrested and convicted multiple times on drug charges, assault and unlawful carrying of a weapon. Little Mike just got out of jail last Friday.
Mike says Young was his best friend and they met when they were 7-8 years old. He says he moved away to Dallas and after he dropped out of high school he moved back to Tyler.
He describes Young's serious demeanor in selling crack cocaine and how he was very financially driven. Mike says he and Young made $700-800/week each selling crack cocaine.
Mike says he is familiar with Masters because show primarily sold to Masters and cooked crack for him at his house before. Young says he was introduced to Masters by Young.
Mike says in February he'd heard Masters was moving and selling some of his things so Young and his girlfriend went by to look at some electronics to buy. He said he asked Masters if he'd seen Young lately and Masters said Young had been shot in the head and killed.
Mike said he didn't believe Masters because he was such good friends with Young that he'd known if he'd been killed. Mike said he hadn't seen it on the news or heard anything from anyone about Young's death.
Shams Masters' Trial-Day 2
A special hearing is called concerning a conflict of interest pertaining to one of Masters' attorneys. Brett Harrison is appointed to represent Masters in this special hearing. One of Masters' attorneys, second chair, Lajuanda Lacey takes the witness stand. It has come to the court's attention that Lajuanda Lacey represented one of the state's witnesses, Michael Moses, on a burglary charge in 1999, the same year she was initially appointed to represent Masters. Lacey testifies that she has no memory of representing Michael Moses and has no information that would unfairly aid her in cross-examination. Lacey says in this trial she is loyal to the defendant, Mr. Masters. She tells the court she wouldn't have even realized she represented Moses if he hadn't brought it up. Lacey says she does have concerns about a conflict of interest in this case because she has represented Mr. Moses. She says she would be a little apprehensive continuing to cross-examine Mr. Moses because she doesn't know what he's going to say. However, she says she doesn't foresee him saying anything they discussed pertaining to this case, because she doesn't recall ever discussing this case with Mr. Moses, but she can't be sure. Lacey says her loyalty completely and totally lies with Mr. Masters in this case.
Harrison calls Mr. Thompson to the stand. Thompson is the lead defense attorney in Masters case. Mr. Thompson says he is concerned that this situation may affect her ability to cross-examine Mr. Moses because she has voiced concerns. Mr. Thompson says he doesn't think Lacey would do anything less than her best to represent Masters in this case, but Thompson says there are too many "maybes" to say for certain that her former representation of Mr. Moses is not a conflict. Mr. Thompson says he is not concerned about Lacey's loyalty to Masters in this case, he says the possibility of ethical issues arising are his primary concern.
Brett Harrison has asked for ex parte (a private hearing) with just himself, Masters and Judge Kennedy.
Judge Kennedy rules there is no conflict of interest in this case and Lacey will continue representing Masters.
The jury is brought in and Michael Moses takes the stand to continue testimony.
Lacey questions Moses about the last time he saw Young. Moses says he was in jail in Shreveport when police came to see him about Young's death.
Lacey begins questioning Moses about the statement Masters allegedly made to him before February 18, 2012 about Young being shot in the head and killed. Lacey asks him why it took him 12 years to decide the statement was relevant. He said he didn't receive a subpoena for trial until now. Lacey asks him if he's aware that he doesn't have to wait for a subpoena to give this information to authorities. Moses says he was "under the impression Masters plead out and got six years,"
The attorneys consult at the judge's bench and the jury is removed from the courtroom. The defense motions for a mistrial. They say Masters cannot receive a fair trial now that the jury has been informed that he is already a convicted felon. The State argues the jury already knows Masters is a drug user and that Moses' statement doesn't have an effect on the way the jury perceives the defendant. The defense says the jury shouldn't simply be instructed to disregard the last statement. Judge Kennedy denies the motion for mistrial.
The jury is brought back in and instructed to disregard Moses' last statement.
Moses testifies that he'd known Masters 3-4 months before Kilo (Masters) was killed. Moses testifies that he did not sell drugs out of the Aberdeen house. Moses says he never observed any physical or verbal altercation between Kilo and Masters. Moses testifies that during the week of February 15, 1999 he didn't know how much money Kilo had on him. Lacey asks Moses if many people knew Kilo had a lot of money. He said the people Kilo dealt to probably saw his fat wallet and knew he had a lot of money.
The State calls Charlie Baker as the next witness.
Charlie Baker was a detective on this case for the Smith County Sheriff's office in 1999.
Baker says at the crime scene he saw where the body had been dragged into the woods. Baker says he then looked up the victim's parents trying to find leads. Young's parents told Baker he often hung out with Michael Moses. Baker says in trying to track down Moses he discovered he was in a Shreveport jail. Baker says Moses was unable to give him pertinent information at the time.
Baker says he interviewed multiple people but no one provided him with pertinent information. Baker tells the jury he had visited the Aberdeen address multiple times during the investigation.
The State passes the witness.
Baker says at the Aberdeen address he saw officers interviewing a man named Aaron Vaughn. Baker says he was looking for Moses at the Aberdeen residence and Vaughn told him Moses had gone to Shreveport. The defense asks Baker why he had so much interest in locating Mr. Moses. Baker said Mr. Moses was a lead he'd gotten from the Youngs and wanted to follow up on it.
Moses told Baker he believed someone had killed Kilo. Baker says Moses referred him to the Aberdeen house but didn't give him any more useful information.
The State questions Baker about his visit to Shreveport. He says Moses was reserved in speaking to Baker at first until Baker told Moses he wasn't trying to get Moses to rat out his friend's drug dealings. Baker says when he eventually told Moses Kilo was dead, Moses seemed genuinely shocked and slumped down into his seat with a blank stare.
The State calls Russell Aaron Tyler. Tyler lived in the Tanglewood Apartments in Tyler from 1997-1999. Tyler lived with a good friend named James Carroway. Tyler says he later moved to the Pinecrest Mobile
Home Park. Tyler says he became involved in the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine with his father. Tyler says he did not use meth, but he made it and sold it. Tyler says some of it he sold to Masters. Tyler says he also sold and used marijuana. Tyler says he stopped selling drugs when he moved from Tyler to Austin in 1999.
Tyler says he was friends with Masters and had more than a drug dealer/buyer relationship. Tyler says Masters became strung out on drugs later in their friendship.
Tyler says he bought guns from Masters. He tells the jury he is not proud of this part of his past. Tyler says he'd seen Masters shoot firearms multiple times and believed him to know how to use guns. Tyler says he was on his way to meet another dealer when he heard the police were raiding his trailer. He says he pulled into his trailer park, saw the police and left. He says he was worried because he had methamphetamines in his trailer and he'd seen Masters on the news as a suspect in a murder.
Tyler tells the jury about the night Masters came by with Aaron Vaughn asking to borrow a gun. Tyler says he gave Masters his new 9mm gun because Masters said he wanted to go shooting at the lake. Tyler says in the morning he saw Masters pull up with Vaughn in a blue four door car. He says Masters got out of the car and returned the gun to Tyler by placing it under the seat in his truck.
Tyler says he checked out the gun, didn't think Masters ever shot it and went on his way. Tyler says he was surprised the handgun was still loaded but wasn't concerned.
Tyler says he saw Masters one last time before Masters was arrested to sell him more drugs.
Tyler testifies he only knew Masters and Vaughn. He says he didn't know Kilo or any of Masters & Vaughns' roommates or friends. Tyler says he had been to the Aberdeen house. He says a lot of men and women were always there partying and selling drugs. Tyler says he never stayed the night at the Aberdeen house.
Tyler says a couple weeks (more or less... He can't remember) after lending Masters the gun he saw Masters on the news.
Tyler says after he saw Masters on the news, he soaked his guns in motor oil, wiped them down and had his friend bury the guns in the ground. Tyler says he couldn't bury them because he was in a cast from his hip to his toe.
Tyler says he got his dad involved and his dad inspected the gun Masters borrowed. Tyler says his dad found one round missing from the gun and blood on the end of the gun. Tyler says his dad was really mad at him. Tyler says his dad and his attorney contacted the Sheriff's office. Tyler says he understands what he did initially with the gun was tampering with evidence and is a felony.
The jury is dismissed for lunch while the court takes up an issue outside the presence of the jury.
After lunch Tyler resumes his position on the witness stand and The State begins asking him about the guns buried in the ground.
Tyler says it was his understanding that if he worked with Detective Beddingfield concerning the murder weapon, then the charges stemming from the drugs found in Tyler's mobile home would be dropped.
Tyler says he went to the jail with his dad to talk to Masters for detectives to see if Masters would give up any information about Kilo's murder. All Tyler recalls Masters saying was to "get rid of that .9"
The State passes the witness. Tyler says he hasn't spoken to his father his 8 years. The defense asks Tyler if he's not a criminal like his father because he never went to prison. Tyler says he used to be a criminal but now owns an successful carpet cleaning business in Austin and Colorado. The defense asks if he's the only one who saw Masters with the .9mm gun. Tyler says his friend James was present when he gave the gun to Masters. Tyler says he was never arrested on drug charges.
The defense asks why Tyler hid the guns if he wasn't connected to the murder. Tyler said the police already knew about the drugs, so he didn't want them to know about the guns, too.
Thompson questions Tyler about his father putting peroxide on the gun and seeing it foam up and knowing there was bacteria or blood on the gun. Thompson tells Tyler he only cooperated with authorities after he made a deal with law enforcement that he wouldn't go to jail. Tyler says he never made any deals, his father made all the deals with authorities.
Thompson asks Tyler why he is so sure about some things and not sure about other things that happened on 1999. Tyler says he just simply remembers some things better than others. Tyler says he remembers Aaron Vaughn, James Carroway, Shams Masters and himself being present when Tyler leant the gun to Masters. Thompson asks about who was driving. Tyler says Masters and Vaughn were in Vaughn's blue car but he's not sure who drove to pick up the gun.
Tyler testifies he sold meth to Shams but never to Vaughn.
The defense asks questions about the gun after it was returned. The defense asks how Tyler knows one bullet was missing from his gun. Tyler says he gave Masters a full clip. The defense asks how Tyler is sure the clip was full. Tyler says he always kept his guns fully loaded. The defense asks Tyler how he's sure Masters was the one returning the gun. Tyler says he was sleeping in the living room and heard Masters and Vaughn pull up. Tyler says he looked out the window and saw Masters putting the gun back in Tyler's truck like he'd been asked around 5:30am. The defense asks how Tyler could see this if it was dark outside. Tyler says the headlights of Vaughn's car produced enough light for Tyler to see this.
The defense asks if Tyler was under the impression only Masters would be shooting the gun. Tyler says he didn't really think about if Vaughn would be shooting the gun. Tyler says he gave the gun to Masters and understood Masters would be shooting the gun.
The State calls James Carroway. Carroway was Tyler's roommate. They've known each other since they were about 15. Carroway says he worked at a carwash and helped Tyler's dad make meth. Carroway said he didn't sell the drugs. Carroway said he occasionally smoked marijuana with Tyler but did not use the hard drugs they were manufacturing.
Carroway testifies that he didn't know any of the people hanging out at the Aberdeen residence and had never been there himself. He testifies that he didn't know the victim, William Young.
Carroway tells the jury about finding out police were raiding their trailer. Carroway says two girls who had been staying the night left the trailer sometime after Carroway and Tyler left and saw the police raid the trailer. Carroway said he called his trailer to see if the raid was really happening and police answered his phone.
The State begins to question Carroway about he night Masters came over to borrow a gun from Tyler. Carroway does not recall Tyler physically handing the gun to Masters. Carroway thinks he may have been in another room. Carroway said Masters said he wanted to go to the liquor store and shoot some bottles in the woods. Carroway said he didn't think anything of it. Carroway said he later heard a car pull up and saw someone put the something in Tyler's truck. Carroway said he assumed it was Masters returning the gun because the gun was back in the morning.
The State asks Carroway about burying the guns. Carroway says he buried the guns because if Tyler's dad told you to do something, you did it. Carroway says Tyler's dad was a very intimidating person. He says he wishes he wasn't picked to bury the guns, but knew he didn't really have a choice because Tyler couldn't really dig the hole himself with his broken leg.
The State calls former Smith County Detective David Beddingfield. Up front Beddingfield testifies that he has since been convicted for four felonies, including two counts of indecency with a child.
The State begins questioning Beddingfield about his search of Tyler & Carroway's mobile home. Beddingfield says he was looking for anything associated with the murder.
Beddingfield says he later had a conversation with Tyler's father about retrieving the possible murder weapon.
The State has Beddingfield unpack the actual murder weapon. Beddingfield says he did not make any agreements with Tyler or his father regarding dropping pending drug charges in exchange for the murder weapon. Beddingfield says he told Tyler if he didn't have anything to do with the murder, he wouldn't be charged with it, but he'd better hand the gun over.
Beddingfield testifies that Tyler's father had been in touch with an attorney who had been in touch with Beddingfield. Beddingfield testifies that he and his department made no deal with Tyler's father regarding drug charges.
The State asks Beddingfield about the search at Tyler's mobile home again. He said he had not put anyone at the scene of the murder at this time he was searching Tyler's home. He says Tyler voluntarily gave him the gun but he had no impression Tyler had anything to do with Young's murder. Beddingfield said when Tyler gave him the gun, he didn't even know if it was the murder weapon for sure, yet. He adds that he never would have found the murder weapon if Tyler and his dad hasn't called him up and turned it in.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday.
Shams Masters Day 3
The jury is brought into the courtroom at 9:30 a.m.
The State calls Aaron Vaughn, Masters' former roommate at the Aberdeen house. The State tells Vaughn anything he says in court today cannot be used against him. Vaughn says he has never been to prison before. He now lives in West Texas with his wife and children. Vaughn says he met Masters through another friend. He says their meeting had something to do with weed. Vaughn testifies that he met Masters a few months before Kilo was killed.
Vaughn explains his marijuana addiction graduated to a cocaine addiction that graduated to a crack-cocaine addiction. He says with the cocaine, he'd do about 10-15 lines a day. Then he started smoking crack-cocaine. Vaughn says he also used meth and acid.
Vaughn says he moved into the Aberdeen duplex around August of 1998. Vaughn says he got into the hard drugs a couple months after that. He says Masters moved into the Aberdeen house in January 1999 when other roommates moved out and Vaughn needed help with rent. Vaughn goes into his relationship with a girl named Amber McMillin. Vaughn describes their relationship as a "friends with benefits" situation. He says eventually Amber got her own room in the Aberdeen house but sometimes they'd sleep in the same bed depending on if the other person had a "guest" over or not.
Vaughn goes into a lengthy explanation about who was "messing around with who" who was exclusively dating, who wasn't, who was strung out on crack, and who "only" did a hard drugs from time to time.
Vaughn says things got really bad in the house with people coming and going... the hot water got cut off, they were trading drugs for alcohol, they were not eating, etc.
Vaughn says he and Masters would pool their money because they could buy more crack together than separately.
Vaughn says he got most of his crack from Masters who got his crack from Locke (Young, the victim in the case). Vaughn describes Locke as a lighter skinned black male, about six feet tall with the same build as Masters. He says he didn't meet Locke until mid January 1999.
Vaughn says Locke was "posted up" at his house selling crack. Vaughn says he and Masters also sold crack out of the Aberdeen house. Vaughn says Masters used to be a "middle man" of sorts, but eventually he could just get his supply directly through Kilo without going to Masters.
Vaughn says things continued to get really out of control. He said one day he walked into his house and two guys he didn't even know were cooking crack in his kitchen. He says they cussed him out and told him to get out of his own kitchen. He says he remembers waking up and going to bed thinking about crack. He says the house was cold and they had no hot water and things were really miserable. Vaughn says it got to the point that he'd trade Masters clothes for crack. Vaughn says Kilo would sleep on their couch but they weren't really friends. He says it more like a business. Vaughn says Masters and Kilo/Locke seemed to be friends. Vaughn says Kilo usually just listened to the radio and smoked weed at the Aberdeen house while waiting for someone to come buy drugs.
Vaughn says he tried to bathe every other day if he could stand the cold water. He says Masters would shower every 3-4 days.
Vaughn testifies that back in 1999 he drove a blue car that he thinks was a Toyota Camry. He says his license was valid to the best of his knowledge but it didn't have a registration, inspection, insurance or anything. He says he quit driving it in Nov 1998 because he got a lot of tickets for not having the proper stickers. The State shows the jury a photo of the car in question. This is the car Kilo's blood was found in.
Vaughn testifies that Masters usually drove the car, and he mainly drove it at night because it was more difficult for police to see the missing stickers. He says Masters drove his car daily. Vaughn says he never drove the car and that he always drove Amber's car.
Vaughn testifies that he remembers the police coming to his house on the afternoon of February 18, 1999.
Vaughn says there were drugs at the house and he had been smoking. He says when the police showed up everybody panicked.
The police questioned them about Kilo and told them Kilo was murdered.
Vaughn says after the police left, he asked Masters if he had anything to do with Kilo's death and Vaughn says Masters "went berserk." Vaughn says he had a suspicion something had happened to Kilo because Vaughn hadn't seen him and Masters had "jacked" Kilo. Vaughn says Masters had asked him if he wanted to help rob Kilo for drugs and money. Vaughn says he told Masters he didn't want anything to do with that. He says there was a little tension in the house because they were tired of Kilo hanging around and wanted him to "move on."
Vaughn says he remembers Kilo was over on a Monday night because that's when the guys all watched wrestling. Vaughn says Kilo and Masters left together and that was the last time Vaughn saw Kilo. Vaughn said Masters returned without Kilo and with a very large amount of crack. Vaughn testifies that Masters told him he didn't think Kilo would be bothering them anymore. Vaughn says he didn't ask Masters what he meant because he didn't want to know what had happened.
Vaughn testifies that his and Master's rent money was stolen at a Super Bowl party in 1999. Vaughn says he and Masters had differing opinions on who stole the money. Vaughn thought a friend, Mr. Lynch, took it. Masters thought Kilo took it.
Vaughn says after the police talked to him about Kilo's death, he checked himself in to the ETMC Behavioral Health Center. He says after three days he got kicked out of the BAC for not having health insurance.
He says when he was kicked out, he went back to the Aberdeen duplex and Masters was there. Vaughn says he and Masters left the duplex to go stay with friends because they were being evicted for not paying the bills. Vaughn says he left early the next morning because he wanted to distance himself from Masters. He says he went to a friends apartment where Masters wouldn't find him. Vaughn adds that he owed Masters $100.
The State questions Vaughn about taking Masters to Tyler's trailer to get the gun. Vaughn says he didn't know Masters was getting a gun. He says there was a paper bag with something in it that he took Masters to return to Tyler's the next day, but he said it wasn't until sometime lasted that he realized a gun was in that bag.
The State passes the witness.
The defense begins by telling Vaughn he seems very labored while testifying. They tell them there seem to be a lot of things Vaughn cannot remember. Vaughn agrees this is true.
The defense starts asking Vaughn about the many interviews he's had with law enforcement over the past 10 years.
Defense attorney, Mr. Thompson goes back to Vaughn's earlier testimony breaking down his drug use history.
After lunch the defense begins questioning Vaughn about the unknown men cooking crack in his house. Vaughn testifies that he didn't know the men but believed them to be Kilo's friends. The defense asks if Kilo's friends were disrespecting Vaughn. Vaughn says they were. Vaughn says those men did not have permission to be making drugs in his house.
Vaughn testifies that he was at one point scared of Masters.
The defense asks Vaughn why he didn't tell detectives Masters had confided in him about the murder until years later. Vaughn says he thought he'd told detective Rosco about Masters' statement.
The defense asks Vaughn why he seems to remember more about Kilo's death after more time passes. Vaughn says he doesn't know. He says years later he had his own son and that changed things. The defense asks Vaughn why having his own son wouldn't give him more reason not to get involved in everything again. Vaughn says it was just different.
The defense begins questioning Vaughn about the specifics of February 13, 1999. Vaughn says he can't remember that date exactly. "So your dates are twisted, just like your facts," says Mr. Thompson to Vaughn.
Vaughn says he was still loyal to Masters up until a month after the murder. He says he later found out Masters was "trying to blame this," on Vaughn. Vaughn says he was eager to tell people that Masters had already confessed the crime to him.
Vaughn testifies that he had never seen Masters in possession of a gun and never saw a weapon at the Aberdeen house the whole time Masters and Vaughn lived together.
Mr. Thompson: You're having a very difficult time remembering the dates thins occurred. Is that correct?
Vaughn: Yes, sir.
MT: So it would be equally difficult for you to out events with dates? Is that fair?
V: That's a fair statement sir.
MT: Do you have a fair recollection of the night my client left the duplex with Mr. Young?
V:Not really. It was an insignificant event at the time.
MT: Do you remember somebody picking up Kilo that night?
V: I don't remember.
MT: Do you know an individual by the name of Dale Linebaugh?
V: Yes sir.
Vaughn testifies Linebaugh or his friend (Vaughn can't remember) lived down the street on Aberdeen.
The defense asks if Linebaugh and his friend were regulars at the Aberdeen house. Vaughn says they were not regulars because they were a lot younger than the others and they didn't smoke crack.
MT: Do you have any personal knowledge that Mr. Masters went to Aaron Tyler's to get a gun?
V: No I do not.
The State begins questioning the witness again. Vaughn testifies that he was surprised when investigators told him there was blood in his car.
The State asks Vaughn if he remembers what exactly he told investigators about Masters' confession in 1999. He says he almost remembers word for word but not quite. The state shows Vaughn a transcript from his 1999 statement.
The State asks Vaughn to tell the court what Masters said in 1999. Vaughn says he doesn't feel comfortable saying verbatim what Masters had said to him. The judge instructs the witness to repeat exactly what was said in 1999.
"He said, 'That [racial slur] is going to get what he deserves.'"
The state passes the witness.
The defense attorney asks Vaughn why is memory is better today than it was in 1999. Vaughn says his memory is the same, but the drug use causes things to be garbled together.
MT: So your mind was so messed up you don't know what you were saying?
V: I knew what I was saying.
The defense asks Vaughn if he was lying in 1999. Vaughn says he wasn't telling the whole truth in 1999. The defense asks, "if you weren't telling the whole truth in 1999, why should we believe you're telling the whole truth now?" Vaughn says he is not lying right now.
The defense asks Vaughn about his grand jury testimony in 1999. Before that testimony concluded, Vaughn supposedly asked why no one had asked him yet if Masters confessed to the murder. The defense asks Vaughn if he was motivated to tell everyone there was a confession from Masters so he wouldn't be considered a suspect himself. Vaughn says he doesn't remember if he had any motive in 1999.
The State asks Vaughn if he can tell Mr. Thompson is trying to paint his 1999 grand jury testimony as an attempt for Vaughn to shift the focus off himself and onto Masters.
Vaughn testifies he knows the 1999 hearing was never about him. Vaughn testifies he was before the grand jury voluntarily and was not subpoenaed. He said he did not bring a lawyer with him. He says he has always spoken to law enforcement about this case when asked.
The State calls Amber McMillin.
Amber lived in the Aberdeen duplex before Masters moved in. When the State asks Amber to identify Masters in the courtroom by pointing at him she starts crying.
Amber talks about how bad the situation was at the Aberdeen house. She says the guys would pawn her belongings off to get money for drugs. Amber says she was a druggie but she did not do crack. She says she never so much as smoked a cigarette until she was 18, went through bad personal issues and resorted to drugs.
Amber says she liked Kilo. She says she called him Henry because she didn't like the name Kilo. She says he was funny and fun to be around. She says Little Mike sort of creeped her out because he didn't really talk to anyone.
Amber says she was also friends with Masters. She starts crying as she starts to tell the jury how she and Masters always goofed around and got into popcorn fights and things.
Amber tells the jury when she found out Young had been killed she left work and went to the Aberdeen house. She says there she cried and Masters consoled her. Amber starts crying very hard as she tells the jury she remembered telling Masters that the person who did this to Young deserved to be killed. Amber starts crying more when she tells the jury Masters put his arm around her and said he had no idea who would have killed Young.
Amber tells the jury she remembers Masters begging and begging for her car a couple days prior to Kilo's body being found. She says she wouldn't give it to him because she had to work and last time she leant her car to them, they burned a hole in her seat. She says she told Masters to take Vaughn's car. She says Masters didn't want to take Vaughn's car because the stickers were out. Amber says she didn't know what the problem was since Masters always drove Vaughn's car with the stickers out.
The State asks Amber to tell the jury about one time she came home from work and couldn't get into the Aberdeen house. She says she banged on the glass door until Masters woke up and let her in. She says she had just been visited by a detective at work and was starting to get a little suspicious of Masters' involvement. She says she asked him if he had anything to do with the murder and it's then she saw a completely different side of him. She said Masters started pacing around the room and then started yelling and cussing at her. Amber testifies she started to get really scared because Masters had never raised his voice at her before. She said Masters told her to look him in the eye and "say that [expletives] again." She says she decided to just play it cool and apologize. She said she told Masters she was sorry she even asked him that and that she was just "trippin" from the police asking her so many questions. Amber starts to cry very hard again as she tells jury what happened next. She says she and Masters sat down on the couch and he put his arm around her and apologized for yelling at her. Amber says Masters told her he had no idea who would do something like shoot Kilo in the head. Ambers says "that's when my heart dropped down to my tippy toes" because no one had said anything yet about Kilo being shot in the head.
The prosecution still has a lengthy list of witnesses to call. At least 10 more people could testify on behalf of the state before they rest their case.
Shams Masters Day 4
The State calls Dale Linebaugh. Linebaugh testifies he was friends with Casey McMillin. Casey was Amber's little brother. Amber McMillin, a roommate of Masters, testified Thursday.
Linebaugh testifies that he lived with a friend on Aberdeen a few houses down from Masters. Linebaugh says he'd been living on Aberdeen for about a year before Young was killed. Linebaugh testifies that he knew Masters and met him through being neighbors. Linebaugh is able to identify Masters in the courtroom.
Linebaugh testifies that he's been to Masters Aberdeen house maybe four times in total. Linebaugh testifies he did drugs at the house.
Linebaugh says he did meet Kilo/Young at the Aberdeen house.
Linebaugh says he saw Masters the night before he was arrested. He says he remembers seeing the police sitting outside Masters house.
Linebaugh testifies when he went into the Aberdeen house that night, Masters was acting differently than Linebaugh remembers. He says Masters seemed a lot tougher than he remembers.
Linebaugh recounts the night he met Kilo, the night Kilo was believed to be killed. Linebaugh tells the jury he was doing drugs and watching wrestling with Aaron Vaughn when Kilo and Masters came out of a back bedroom. Linebaugh says Masters made a phone call and then he and Kilo left. Linebaugh says hours later Masters returned alone and with crack and chicken nuggets. Linebaugh says the chicken nuggets were significant because Masters hadn't had any money at all when he left. Linebaugh testifies that Masters came back asking for change to go wash his car. Linebaugh says Masters told them he spilled ketchup in the car and needed to go wash it.
During cross examination the defense asks Linebaugh to try to recall the details of what Kilo was wearing.
The defense asks Linebaugh how he knew Masters wouldn't have money to buy his own chicken nuggets. Linebaugh says he knew "those guys" didn't have money. The defense asks Linebaugh if he physically went through Masters pockets before he left and knew for a fact he didn't have enough money for food. Linebaugh says he didn't check Masters pockets.
Defense attorney Lacy asks Linebaugh if it would be reasonable for someone who just committed a murder to announce to a room full of people that they needed change to clean "red stuff.. Or ketchup" out of their car. Linebaugh says people on drugs do stupid things.
Lacy asks Linebaugh about how long Masters was gone. Linebaugh says maybe an hour. Lacy asks Linebaugh if it would be physically possible to drive from Aberdeen to the site the body was found, murder someone, drag their body into the woods, and go get some chicken nuggets and be back in an hour. Linebaugh says he doesn't know how long it takes to murder someone and he's not quite sure how far the murder site was from the Aberdeen duplex.
The defense asks Linebaugh questions that imply Vaughn's drug addiction was more intense than Masters. Linebaugh says he has no way of knowing. The defense asks Linebaugh if he'd seen Vaughn and Masters picking up pieces of popcorn off the floor in the duplex and burning it to see if it was crack. Linebaugh testifies he remembers seeing Vaughn do that, but not Masters. The defense passes the witness.
Linebaugh testifies that he didn't know Masters that well in general.
The State calls Jennifer Vulmer
Jennifer says she was married in 2005 and took on the last name Johnson. Jennifer says back in the 90s she was friends with Amber McMillin. She says she knew Vaughn and Masters back then too. She briefly met Masters in high school and then met him again later when a friend of hers was dating him.
Jennifer says she lived in the Aberdeen house before Masters moved in. She said she saw him around the house but moved out of the house before Masters moved in. Jennifer testified she did use drugs in 1999 but not to the extent of the people around her. Jennifer says she met the victim Kilo briefly, but wasn't his friend. She says Kilo was more of an acquaintance. She said she was better friends with Amber and Vaughn than she was with Masters simply because she didn't really have the opportunity to get to know him.
The defense shows Jennifer a statement she previously made to investigators about Masters.
Lacy: What did you say?
Jennifer: I said I didn't really like him that much because he sort of creeped me out a little.
Lacy: No, what did you actually say?
Jennifer: I'm trying to be polite.
Lacy: What did you say?
Jennifer: I said I didn't like him.
Jennifer says she stopped going to the Aberdeen house because the drug scene was getting out of control. She said she still went there time to time because her best friend Amber lived there. She said she didn't hang out there like she used to.
The State calls Jennifer Kelly, an employee with the Smith County Child Advocacy Center.
Kelly testifies she met Masters through a friend, Erin O'Grady. She says they went to high school together but weren't really friends. Kelly testifies she was in a car accident in 1999. She says the driver of the other car was Shams Masters. Kelly confirms the make, model and license plate of the car Masters was driving.
Detective Baker who testified earlier in the week takes the stand. He testifies that after confiscating Masters car, they ran a luminal test on it. He says the test showed large amounts of blood in the front seat. Baker presents evidenced collected inside the vehicle. Mail including a jury summons, IRS income tax returns and a south side bank statement addressed to Masters were recovered from inside the vehicle.
The State calls Jason Waller again. Waller testified earlier in the trial. The State and Waller go over numerous photographs showing what is believed to be blood stains inside the vehicle. Waller testifies that the stains were swabbed and tested for blood. The State also asks Waller to unpack evidence like the actual seat and headrest cushions that were removed from the vehicle. Waller testifies there were strong indications that the vehicle had been cleaned, but there were still numerous stains inside.
The defense questions Waller about why detectives were only looking for items with Masters' name on them inside the car. Waller says he already knew Vaughn owned the car, so any evidentiary paperwork that linked the owner of the car to his own car didn't have as much significance as paperwork belonging to another person being inside the car.
The State calls Robert Greg Hilbig. Hilbig works at the Texas DPS crime lab in Tyler. He says his lab processed evidence collected in this case. The State asks Hilbig to unpack evidence that has been previously published to the jury, like the victim's clothing. Hilbig and Laura Beasley both testify as laboratory experts from DPS. Hilbig is from the Tyler office and Beasley is from Garland.
Beasley explains to the jury what she does, what DNA is, what a partial profile and a full profile is, etc. Beasley worked to get DNA profiles from the victim's hair and blood stains on the victim's clothing. Though Beasley could not get a full profile she says it's likely the blood on the victim's shirt is the victim's blood. Beasley says the likelihood of the profile of the blood found on the victim's shirt being someone else's at random is 1 in 3,890 for whites, 1 in 980 for blacks and 1 in 531 for Hispanics.
Beasley testifies that she compares the stains on the victim's clothes to two blood stains extracted from the Blue Toyota Camry and one blood stain extracted from the crime scene. She says all three stains matched the partial profiles on the victim's clothing. Beasley testifies that none of the blood stains tested were the blood of Mr. Masters.
Judge Kennedy calls for a 10 minute recess.
The State calls Pat Hendrix. Hendrix is now the chief of police for the city of Troup. In 1999, Hendrix worked for the Smith County Sheriff's Office. Hendrix testifies regarding the arrest of Shams Masters. Hendrix says Masters became loud and belligerent after officials put handcuffs on him. The State shows the jury a photo of Masters when he was arrested in 1999. The defense asks Hendrix if Masters resisted arrest. Hendrix says "not physically."
The State rests their case.
The jury is escorted from the courtroom.
The defense makes a motion saying no evidence has been presented that puts Masters at the scene of the crime. "There is no evidence that sustains one element of this offense. It should not go to a jury," says defense attorney Thompson.
The State says they have proven all parts of the indictment.
Judge Kennedy says the trial will continue and it is now the defense's turn to take over the case. Judge Kennedy asks Masters if he has had the opportunity to discuss with his lawyers whether or not he would like to testify. He says he has not discussed that with them. Judge Kennedy says she will give Masters and his attorneys 10 more minutes to decide if he will testify before the jury.
Masters and his two attorneys become very involved in conversation and eventually come to an decision.
Masters elects not to testify before the jury.
The defense calls Jeff Johnston. Johnston is in TDC serving a sentence for delivery of methamphetamine.
Johnston says he knew Young through the drug trading and dealing business. Johnston says he gave Young rides on a regular basis. He says he considered them to be friends and confidants. He says he saw many people buy drugs from Young. Johnston says on a few different occasions he took Young to a trail to the abandoned house where he kept his drugs. The defense asks Johnston if he is familiar with where Kilo's body was found. He says he thinks so. Johnston testifies that he thinks Kilo's body was found near the drug stash. Johnston testifies that he doesn't think he was the only one who knew where Kilo kept his drugs.
Both sides are expected to make their closing arguments on Monday.
Shams Masters Day 5
The defense is still calling witnesses this afternoon. While the defense left off Friday with detective Roscoe on the stand, they've chosen to take a witness out of order. The defense calls Aaron Vaughn. Vaughn says over the weekend he was able to review some recordings and transcripts of a 1999 interview with Detective Roscoe.
The defense points out a discrepancy in Vaughn's statements. They ask Vaughn if he told authorities that on Feb 12 or 13 Masters confided in him that he had killed Kilo, but the defense points out that authorities say Kilo was killed on Feb 15.
The defense asks Vaughn if he was aware of a friend, Rory Reeves, stating he was scared of Kilo. Reeves supposedly told people he was scared of Kilo because he knew where Kilo's stash was and had stolen his dope.
The defense asks Vaughn if he remembers telling the jury that he didn't ever see a gun or see Masters with a gun while they lived at Aberdeen. Vaughn says he did testify to that. The defense asks Vaughn if he'd told detectives during recorded interviews that Masters did have a weapon at the house and that Vaughn knew exactly where it was and how to get access to it. Vaughn says that is true.
The defense asks Vaughn about his testimony regarding the two "unknown black men" cooking drugs in his kitchen without permission. The defense asks Vaughn if he remembers one of this men who yelled and cursed at him being Kilo. Vaughn says he doesn't remember but if that's what he recording from his 1999 interview said, then it must be accurate.
Vaughn testifies that he was familiar with the murder location because he'd been out there a number of times to pick up Masters from his girlfriend Mae's trailer.
The defense passes the witness.
The State asks Vaughn about his mental state on 1999. The State: Would you be cracked out back then?
Vaughn: More than that.
Vaughn testifies that he'd been placing everything around the Superbowl but his whole timeline of the events was an entire week off because he'd gotten the Superbowl and the Pro bowl confused.
The state flat out asks Vaughn if he killed Kilo.
Vaughn says he did not.
The State and Vaughn talk about the gun Masters borrowed from Mr. Tyler. Vaughn says he told authorities that if Masters had gotten a gun, he would have gotten it from Aaron Tyler. Vaughn testifies he wasn't friends with Tyler and that Tyler was friends with Masters.
The jury is escorted out of the courtroom as Judge Kennedy takes up a matter concerning a transcript of Vaughn's testimony from last week. Over the weekend the court reporter was asked to transcribe the testimony and get a copy to the prosecution and the defense but the court reporter couldn't get ahold of the defense to give it to them. So, Judge Kennedy calls a 20 minute recess to give the defense time to get the transcript and review it.
Vaughn testifies that he does not believe he has ever been to Mr. Tyler's trailer without Masters.
The defense asks their last question, did Masters have a way to get crack cocaine other than through Kilo? Vaughn testifies he did not believe Kilo was Masters' only source.
The State calls Detective Joe Rasco. Rasco was the lead cold-case investigator who restarted this case.
Rasco testifies that he recalls learning in his investigation that Masters' girlfriend live nearby the crime scene. He says the site the body was dumped at seemed random until he was able to make the connection though talking with Vaughn. Rasco says the body was found in a place that lead Masters to be connected to the location.
The defense asks why Masters would have dumped the body where his girlfriend lives. Rasco says the body was not dumped where Masters girlfriend lives.
The defense tries to ask why Masters would dump a body near a place he could be connected to, but The State objects to the question as leading. Their objection is sustained The defense rests.
Judge Kennedy dismisses the jury for 40 minutes.
Judge Kennedy then goes over formal injections regarding the defendant's charge. Motive, intent, preparation and planning are added to the charge.
Both sides will make closing arguments at 1:30 pm.
The jury began deliberating at 2:45 pm. Masters was found guilty around 4:45 pm. The punishment phase will continue tomorrow morning at 9:00.
State asked for a life sentence & max fine ($10,000).
Masters faces anywhere from 5-99 years or life and up to $10,000.
During sentencing phase The State presented evidence of Masters' past convictions. Four Misdemeanors pertaining to drug charges and assault, as well as four bank robberies.
The jury is now deliberating.
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