The first day of the Avery Berry murder trial has wrapped up.
Berry, 20 years old, is accused of shooting Marcus Jackson at the house of Avery’s half-brother, Shakil Berry, at around 2 a.m. on October 24th, 2014. He has pleaded “not guilty” to first-degree murder.
Based on various witness testimony today, it was explained that problems began developing at a birthday party for a cousin of Marcus Jackson at an unspecified bar near Hamilton’s in downtown Jacksonville the previous night.
Avery and Shakil Berry were both there, witnesses said. After a woman named LaPriece Jackson was apparently thrown into a glass window and injured, witnesses testified that’s when Shakil Berry pulled a gun and “cocked it” at Marcus Jackson and several others.
Marcus Jackson’s brother, Marquise, said Shakil Berry had “jumped” Marcus.
No shots were fired, although a bullet apparently fell out of Shakil Berry’s gun.
It wasn’t explained who allegedly attacked LaPriece Jackson or why.
Through testimony, we then learn that Marcus Jackson, along with Marquise, their other brother Gerald, Mondre White, who said he was Marcus’ best friend, and Gerald Jackson’s girlfriend Arielle McGee, went to a house at the corner of North Fayette and West Douglas where Shakil Berry and LaPriece Jackson were both said to have lived.
Gerald Jackson said his brother was “out for revenge”, and prosecutors’ opening statement said Marcus was mad after the incident at the bar.
As tensions built during the ensuing confrontation, Gerald Jackson said Shakil Berry stood on top of a car and claimed he was “a shooter”. Afterwards, McGee said Shakil gave Avery the gun. She testified that Jackson said he didn’t think Shakil would use it.
At some point after that, witnesses said Shakil Berry threw a brick at Marcus Jackson. What followed was a melee, involving the Jacksons and some of the several dozen people already at the property.
With Marcus Jackson “on top” of Shakil Berry in a one-on-one fight, witnesses said Avery Berry, with Shakil’s gun, shot Marcus multiple times from the porch of the house.
McGee and Marquise Jackson both testified they had heard Shakil tell Avery to shoot Marcus. Another witness, Kealey Brown, said she heard someone say, “I’m going to get a gun and shoot this [N-word]”.
Different witnesses gave different accounts of how many shots were fired. Most believed there were three shots, but some said there were as many as six.
There were also different testimonies about what happened to the gun after Marcus Jackson was shot. Gerald Jackson said Avery Berry gave it back to Shakil Berry, who ran inside with it. Marquise Jackson said he saw Avery Berry “tucking something” as he ran away from the scene.
Defense attorney Bruce Locher didn’t dispute that Avery Berry shot Marcus Jackson during opening statements, but appeared to argue self-defense, saying that Avery “came to the aid of his brother”, and didn’t intend to kill him.
Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll asked the six witnesses that were interviewed if Marcus Jackson or anyone that came with him brought any weapons. Gerald Jackson testified that Marcus had wanted to bring a gun, but Gerald said, “we didn’t need one.”
Towards the end of yesterday’s trial, Locher curiously asked the final witness, Brittany Frank, if she saw a dog at the scene. While not directly asking her if she was being coached, Noll followed up by asking her if she had been instructed by him to answer questions a certain way, to which she responded “no”.
The trial continues Thursday morning.