By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – Two witnesses and their truthfulness will weigh on Travon Brown’s jury today as it enters the third day of his double-murder trial.
Brown, 28, faces life in prison if convicted of the Sept. 28, 2011, shooting deaths of Cornelius “Snoop” Harris and Felicia Ruffin, at Harris’ 1108 Chapman Drive home.
Tuesday’s most intriguing state witnesses came hours after tedious but necessary information about police work at the Tupelo death scene, autopsy identification and causes of death, and bullet analysis that declared Brown’s .40-caliber Glock pistol the only gun that could have fired projectiles that killed Harris and Ruffin.
First, Talbis Reagan said that on the night of the shootings he met Brown in the street and alleged that Brown asked if he wanted to buy a machete or a gun. Later, Reagan said Brown told him he wanted to kill somebody.
Reagan told the jury that he’d been forced to sign an incident statement, which included sophisticated vocabulary he didn’t know, because he believed Brown threatened to kill him if he didn’t while the two were in the Lee County Jail – Brown awaiting trial and Reagan serving his time on a misdemeanor guilty plea.
As Reagan began to explain why he’d signed the second statement, District Attorney Trent Kelly objected and then, after a lawyers’ conference with Judge Thomas Gardner, Kelly swiftly escorted Reagan outside the courtroom for a brief conference.
More drama came from state witness Dexter Babbitt, Harris’ cousin. Babbitt made the 911 call after he heard shots come from across the street of his home that fatal night.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Shane McLaughlin repeatedly questioned the elaborate details of Babbitt’s story, especially within the short time frame from hearing the shots, to making the call, to hanging up during the call when he saw police turn down the street toward him.
Babbitt, who admitted to a cocaine sale conviction and jail time, was adamant that he heard two shots, saw the house door open, his cousin try to escape, and Brown snatch him back and shoot Harris in the head.
McLaughlin will continue his questions for Babbitt today as the trial opens in the Lee County Justice Center.
Earlier in the day, firearms expert Mark Bowackle told the jury of 10 women and two men, with two female alternates, that the projectiles which killed Harris and Ruffin could have come only from Brown’s .40-caliber pistol.
Police Detective Brandon Garrett testified about his still and video photography at the death scene, about blood throughout the small house and of discovering Brown in a bathtub bleeding from a bullet wound to his hand.