NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Tuesday's testimony in the capital murder trial of a Nacogdoches man involved a reluctant witness describing the January 2014 shootings the result of a gang turf war.
Decobie "Gutter" Durden, of Nacogdoches, is accused of the shooting deaths of Deveston Flemon and William Cole at the Eastwood Terrace Apartment Complex off of E.J. Blvd.
Flemon, who was shot in the head, was pronounced dead at the scene. Cole, who was shot twice in the back, died a short time later at a Nacogdoches hospital.
The day started with Sgt. Keith Finchan on the stand. Defense attorney John Boundy questioned him about his training as a peace officer and situations known as "justifiable homicides." He was able to get Finchan to agree that officers have been cleared of charges even when suspects were shot in the back.
Finchan later testified that shooting someone in the back would have to be carefully articulated and justified whether the person shot was armed or not.
The person who called 911 the night of the shootings next took the stand and admitted she was not a voluntary witness. She said she used to live in Eastwood Terrace and was hanging out with friends when Cole texted her and told her to come home because he was at her door. She said they went to her home and other friends joined.
She said they were not drunk and were in a good mood. When they left, Cole, Flemon, and another man were having a heated argument with Durden. She said the topic was gang-related and Durden said, "This is my hood. you are not welcomed here." She said the other three told Durden they were just visiting and would leave when they were ready.
She said it was obvious that Durden wanted to fight.
"He didn't raise his fist, but I could tell he wanted to fight," she said.
She said they started to leave when Cole turned around and said, "What?" She said Durden then shot at the ground. She said she ran and after looking back, she said she saw that Cole and Flemon had been shot.
She said she ran to call 911, and the third man was hysterical because his friends had been shot.
"The rest of the night was a blur," she said.
The defense attorney was able to get the witness to confirm she had not made any deals to clear a felony theft incident in exchange for her testimony.
Boundy asked the witness to use a picture to describe the scene that night. Boundy asked the witness about the beverages Cole and Flemon were drinking as well. One man was drinking a Monster energy drink and the other was drinking an unknown drink out of a cup.
Boundy asked if they drank a liquor called "6-O" in honor of their gang. She said she was not in a gang and was not aware of what affiliation Cole and Flemon might have had with it.
Boundy asked the witness to describe what happened after the shooting. She said Sanders rolled Cole and Flemon over. They were facedown.
Boundy then asked the witness about the statement she made after the incident. She agreed that she told detective Ball that Durden was saying, "Get on. You're not welcomed here. Go on," and "why y'all surrounding me?"
She said male ego probably kept the argument going. Boundy asked her if she remembered telling Ball that if one of them fights, all of them fight. She said she did not.
Boundy asked if she knew of DeeDee bragging about cutting someone weeks prior at the Blue Light Club and that he had spent time in TDCJ for aggravated robbery. She said she did not.
Boundy confirmed that the witness and DeeDee were having a sexual relationship.
You want Durden to pay for this right? Did you call Sanders and tell him to get the story straight so he could pay?" Boundy asked.
The witness said that was not true.
Lostracco asked the witness if there was another place Durden could have gotten the gun from before the shooting. She said she believes it had to have been on him. The witness said no one said anything to Durden but Flemon.
Boundy told the witness there were only three shell casings at the scene. Cole was shot with one and Flemon with two. She said surprised her because she heard four shots in all. She said a Jacorian Snider was at the scene, but ran after the first shot was fired.
The witness confirmed that she did not tell Ball the men were "set-tripping." Boundy mentioned that was not a part of Ball's report.
Lostracco asked the witness when Durden turned around to leave the argument. The witness said he did not. She said she and Flemon were leaving when Durden said something to engage Flemon.
Charles Sanders, or Lil C, was called to the stand next. Lostracco made it known that Sanders has a lengthy record but was not offered anything in exchange for his testimony.
Sanders said he and Cole arrived to the "girl's" house in Eastwood Terrace in separate cars at the same time.
Sanders said they were drinking Bell Ringer, but he was not feeling the liquor yet. Sanders said Flemon arrived later and was not intoxicated. He said all three men left at the same time after about 45 minutes. He said he knew Durden personally through school. Sanders said they ran into him while walking to their cars.
Responding to a question from Lostracco, Sanders said as said as he, Cole, and Flemon went to their cars, they ran into Durden, who was just standing there.
Sanders said Durden told them to "be quiet with all that noise. The laws up there." Durden also said, "I run this hood. You better tell 'em, kinfolk." Sanders then explained that he and Durden are cousins.
Durden made a gang reference, Sanders said. He said Flemon then said, "O-zone or no zone," which is also a gang-related phrase. He said he then heard two shots. Sanders said he ended up ducking behind his car.
He knew who the shooter was because Durden was the only one missing. He said he started to slap Flemon, but he did not respond. He then tried to slap Cole. He said he was hysterical because he felt law enforcement were not acting quickly enough.
Boundy asked Sanders about Durden's tone when he asked them to be quiet. Sanders said it sounded like a friendly warning that authorities were nearby. Sanders agreed that he did not tell detective Ball about the gang activity or phrases.
Sanders said he did not remove a gun from Cole's body and hide it and that he has not been bragging that he was going to bury Durden for killing his homeboy. He also said it was not true that "Eastside Crips" were threatening him to make sure Durden paid for what he is accused of doing.
In response to a question from Lostracco, Sanders said he was not getting pressured by his and Durden's family to help Durden with his testimony. Sanders said he was just there to tell the truth.