By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – A jury of 10 whites and two blacks will hear more testimony today in Travon Brown’s trial for the 2011 shooting deaths of two people.
Prosecutors began their case about 3 p.m. Monday after jury selection in the Lee County Justice Center.
Two men and 10 women make up the jury, with two white female alternates.
Brown, 28, a slender black man, faces life in prison if convicted on both murder counts.
He is accused of shooting to death Cornelius “Snoop” Harris and Felicia Ruffin in an 1108 Chapman Drive residence in Tupelo late on the night of Sept. 28, 2011.
Brown, who was wounded in an alleged struggle, insists it was self-defense.
District Attorney Trent Kelly told jurors to wait for all the evidence, which he told them will show Brown’s guilt.
“No other people were at the scene – when police got there three minutes after they were called,” Kelly told them.
Defense attorney Shane McLaughlin of Tupelo urged the jurors to keep an open mind until all the evidence is presented.
“You’ll hear Harris felt insulted by what Travon said,” he said in his opening statement. “They struggled in a small area, and a loaded 40 caliber pistol in Travon’s waistband fell to the floor. They both went for the gun. They both get their hands on it.”
Backing up Kelly are assistant district attorneys John Weddle and Brian Neely.
Public defender Adam Pinkard is co-counsel with McLaughlin.
The trial is expected to continue throughout the week with Judge Thomas Gardner presiding.
Monday’s witnesses were Shae Robbins, a Lee County E911 dispatcher, and Tupelo Police Department officials Douglas Mansell and Rusty Haynes.
Robbins testified about receiving a cell phone call shortly before midnight reporting shots fired on Chapman Drive. She passed along the information to TPD and emergency medical personnel.
Mansell and Haynes were among the first officers on the shooting scene and discovered Harris’ and Ruffin’s bodies in the residence’s blood-spattered living room.
Harris was splayed out on the floor and Ruffin was seated on the sofa, appearing to have been shot just as she turned the page of the book she was reading.
Officers said they discovered Brown in the bathtub reclining with a beer between his legs and his pistol at his feet.
To find him guilty, all 12 jurors must agree “beyond a reasonable doubt” that he meant to kill Harris and Ruffin.
As Monday’s session ended, Gardner disallowed two state photos of their bodies as they were received for autopsy.
McLaughlin said they were not relevant and only served to inflame the emotions of the jury.