By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – Travon Brown will let his attorneys’ closing statements today seek to convince his jury that two others died from a hail of bullets fired from his gun during a fight with one of the deceased.
Wednesday, 28-year-old Brown informed Judge Thomas Gardner that he would not testify for himself despite his insistence he acted in self-defense on Sept. 28, 2011, at Cornelius Harris’ home on 1108 Chapman Drive in Tupelo.
If convicted, Brown faces life in prison.
After learning of Brown’s decision, Gardner questioned him under oath to be convinced the slender man wearing a blue striped shirt, dark trousers and a dark bow tie, understood that he was waiving his chance to tell his side of the late-night incident in which Harris and Felicia Ruffin died.
Brown said he understood.
By not testifying, he avoids cross-examination by state prosecutors.
The trial’s fourth day begins at 9 a.m. with instructions of law to the jury. Then closing arguments will be made by the state, Brown’s defense and then wrapped up by the state.
An expert on Wednesday told the jury the only DNA found on the alleged death weapon was Brown’s.
Jurors will never hear about the presence of drugs found by a state toxicologist in the body fluids of Harris and Ruffin.
Gardner reinforced an earlier decision not to allow the information in evidence, he said, because no connection could be presented that the presence of cocaine and marijuana in their bodies had anything to do with their behavior on the fatal night.
Defense attorney Shane McLaughlin argued unsuccessfully that the drug information was crucial to their self-defense theory, that Brown was attacked by Harris and that fatal shots sprayed the living room interior as the men fought over Brown’s .40-caliber Glock pistol.
The day’s most peculiar moments came surrounding defense testimony from Christopher Robinson, a Georgia man with years of education and training in forensics but who apparently lacked the certifications necessary to be classified as an expert.
Robinson told the jury that Tupelo Police failed to conduct numerous tests at the death scene to determine where bullets were fired during a likely struggle. He also said questions remain about blood spatter and gunshot residue.
Prosecutor John Weddle verbally shredded much of Robinson’s expertise claims and raised doubts about the validity of his testimony.
But in rebuttal, defense counsel Adam Pinkard helped Robinson repeat his assertions that the jury could have much more information about what happened that night, if numerous standard tests had been ordered by investigators.
On Tuesday, Harris’ cousin Dexter Babbitt testified that he saw Brown shoot Harris, both men wearing white T-shirts.
A convenience store video introduced Wednesday showed Brown, just hours before the shootings, wearing a red plaid shirt, the same shirt he wore when he was arrested at the Harris home.