Both sides have rested their cases in Morgan County Court in the first-degree murder trial of Avery Berry.
Berry is accused of shooting Marcus Jackson at the house of Avery’s half-brother, Shakil Berry, in the early morning hours of October 24th, 2014, in the aftermath of a fight at Shakil Berry’s house on North Fayette Street in Jacksonville.
Witness testimony from the first day of the trial indicated the fight was a follow-up to an incident at a birthday party at a Jacksonville bar from the previous night.
Berry took the stand yesterday afternoon. He said Marcus Jackson was the instigator at the party. He said he was a relative of the person for whom it was being thrown, identified as Seville Jackson.
He says Marcus and Seville Jackson, who were cousins, “had a few words”, had to be broken up, and then Marcus Jackson threw LaPriece Jackson into the glass portion of the entertainment system, causing her to be injured.
After that, Avery said Seville Jackson’s father ended the party, but he claimed Marcus Jackson and others with him refused to leave. That’s when he said Shakil Berry drew a gun, but as we previously reported, no shots were fired at the party.
Berry says he went back home after that; he told jurors he was living at the house where the shooting took place at the corner of Fayette and Douglas. He says Marcus Jackson, with the previously-mentioned group that had accompanied him, knocked on the door. Eventually, Avery and Shakil Berry came out.
He says Marcus Jackson and his brothers continued to threaten them, and verified other details that had been previously reported leading up to the altercation.
Berry said incidents like this had been happening all summer.
Berry said other fights that were happening were migrating to a different part of the property, while he followed Shakil Berry and Marcus Jackson as they were fighting.
Previous witness testimony claimed Shakil gave Avery his gun, but Avery testified today he had his own gun, and used that one to shoot Marcus, because he feared for his brother’s life. He said he didn’t recall if Shakil told him to shoot Marcus.
When asked if he could have assisted Shakil Berry without firing a gun, he said “no”. When asked if he thought he should talk to police instead of running away, he said “no”. When asked what he did with the gun, he said, “I don’t know.”
Berry was arrested by U.S. Marshals in St. Louis two months after the shooting. In cross-examination today, Berry said he decided to go to St. Louis before the shooting.
The defense rested after Berry’s testimony. Closing arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow. Avery’s defense attorney says the state has presented to him jury instructions for a possible second degree murder charge.