Jurors likely to decide capital murder case Thursday - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jurors likely to decide capital murder case Thursday

The lead investigator in Hunter Miller's murder takes the stand on the third day of the capital murder trial. (Photo source: WLOX News) The lead investigator in Hunter Miller's murder takes the stand on the third day of the capital murder trial. (Photo source: WLOX News)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Did Nicholas Marcel DeMorst have anything to do with the January 2014 shooting death of Hunter Miller? Thursday, closing arguments will be heard and then jurors will have to decide if DeMorst was involved in the drug deal prosecutors claim led to Miller's death.

On day three of the trial, Wednesday, the prosecution called three people to testify. The first person on the stand was State Medical Examiner Dr. Mark LaVaughn. He told the jurors Miller, 26, died from a gunshot wound to the back. He said the bullet struck Miller in the left side of his chest and came out the right side.

Freddie Lawrence, who was once charged in the crime, took the stand next. Lawrence was charged with accessory after the fact of capital murder, but he was never indicted on that charge. Lawrence said he was fighting with his girlfriend at the time of the murder.

Lawrence testified his girlfriend lived next to Kenny Knox and the two knew each other well. Lawrence claimed he knew Knox set up a drug deal the night of the murder with DeMorst. After the murder, Lawrence said he saw Knox.

"His eyes were big, I thought something happened," Lawrence said.

Lawrence told the court he received a phone call from DeMorst shortly after the murder, DeMorst asked to speak to Knox. In trial on Tuesday, Knox testified during that phone conversation DeMorst told him, "The streets don't talk," meaning do not say anything about what happened.

Pictures of tattoos on DeMorst's arms were shown to Lawrence. In a prior interview Lawrence had with police, he said the tattoos were a "rolling 60's" gang tattoo. Prosecutors said that gang is in California where DeMorst is from.

Lead detective on the case, Lt. Scott Wilson, was the last person prosecutors called to the stand. Wilson talked about several interviews he conducted that led him to believe DeMorst killed Miller.

Wilson said the defendant's girlfriend's family told investigators the gunman was Marcel Denegual. Wilson searched their Facebook pages and found a Marcel D, printed out the picture, but they denied knowing him. The Facebook picture investigators were able to use to find out Marcel D was Nicholas Marcel DeMorst. A lineup was made with the Facebook picture and Wilson said Knox identified DeMorst as the gunman.

DeMorst was arrested on January 20, 2014 by Pascagoula police at an apartment complex. He was brought in and interviewed by police, and an audio recording of the interview was played in court. During the interview, DeMorst was upset, yelling and insisting he is not the killer.

"How am I being charged with a murder?" DeMorst asked. "I was not in Gautier at all. I have not been in Gautier. You can call my mother and ask her; I have not been in Gautier in so long."

"Hell no! F*** no, I didn't do it," DeMorst said. "You have an innocent man who did nothing, knows nothing."

Several phone calls DeMorst made from jail to his girlfriend were also played. The two talk about his alibi. They said DeMorst was picking up a car at the time of the murder.

His girlfriend said, "You know you was with me that night right."

He responded to her, "we just got to prove it."

DeMorst asked his girlfriend several times to go to the car place and talk to the man. At one point in the conversation he said, "I'm not going to say anything stupid over the phone."

DeMorst's mother got on the phone and he told her, "I love you so much mom, don't cry no more. Stop crying."

In another recording of a phone conversation in jail, DeMorst tells his girlfriend, "The streets are my downfall. The fast money, man for real, that's addicting."

During that call, DeMorst said, " I f***ed up," and talks about when he gets out jail he's going to get a real job.

After the phone calls were played, the state rested their case. DeMorst's attorney, Wayne Woodall, asked the judge to drop the murder charge due to lack of proof, but the judge denied that request. Woodall then asked the judge to drop the armed robbery charge because of lack of evidence. If that happened, DeMorst wouldn't be charged with capital murder, but the judge denied that request also.

It was now the defense team's turn to make their case. They called one person to the stand, Tessica Bridges, who is DeMorst's girlfriend's mother.

Bridges told the jury she saw DeMorst the night of the murder at her Moss Point home. She said she came home around 8pm to watch her show, saw DeMorst in her daughter's room, and then went to her bedroom and stayed there the rest of the night. The murder happened in Gautier around 8:15pm.

The defense tendered the witness, but prosecutors had lots of questions for Bridges.

One of Bridges' daughter's phones was used the night of the murder to call Knox. After investigators found that out, they went to Bridges' house and said they needed to interview her daughter. Bridges and two of her daughters went to the police station to talk to police.

During the interview, Bridges told police not to tell anyone that DeMorst was at her house the night of the murder. District Attorney Tony Lawrence asked her why she asked investigators to keep that a secret.

Bridges told Lawrence she saw DeMorst a week before the murder for the first time. The second time ever seeing DeMorst, she said, was the night of the murder. The prosecution accused Bridges of helping DeMorst hide from police, which she denied.

On January 20, 2014 when DeMorst was arrested, he was with Bridges and two of her daughters. Bridges said her daughter saw on the news DeMorst was wanted by police and considered armed and dangerous, so the daughter asked Bridges to go with her to get DeMorst to turn him in to police.

Lawrence asked if that was the case why didn't you just call DeMorst and tell him to turn himself in?

She responded, "I don't know."

Thursday, the case is expected to be turned over to the jury. Michelle Lady will be back in the courtroom and have updates online. You can also follow her updates on Twitter @MichelleWLOX.

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