Avery Berry murder trial got underway in Jacksonville this morning

By Gary Scott on July 13, 2016 at 12:53pm

The 20-year-old Berry 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.

In opening statements, Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll told jurors the problem started at a birthday party near Hamilton’s in downtown Jacksonville the previous night. He said Shakil Berry pulled a gun, which angered Marcus Jackson.

He eventually showed up to Shakil Berry’s house at the corner of North Fayette and West Douglas to fistfight, according to Noll. He said Marcus Jackson didn’t have any weapons. After Shakil Berry threw a brick at Marcus Jackson, Noll said they began fighting, and at some point, Avery Berry shot him three times.

Defense attorney Bruce Locher didn’t dispute that Avery Berry shot Marcus Jackson, but appeared to argue self-defense, saying that Avery “came to the aid of his brother”, and didn’t intend to kill him.

Jurors then heard testimony from Arielle McGee, the girlfriend at the time of Marcus’ younger brother Gerald Jackson, as well as from Gerald Jackson himself. They were among several people that supposedly traveled with Marcus to the scene of the incident.

McGee testified that Shakil Berry initially had the gun during the confrontation at his house, and that Jackson said he didn’t think he would use it. She also stated that Shakil Berry gave Avery Berry the gun that he used to shoot Marcus Jackson.

Gerald Jackson, who appeared in a jail jumpsuit, is serving time in the Illinois Department of Corrections for possession of a firearm stemming from an incident after his brother’s murder. He became emotional during his testimony, saying the day his brother died is a day he can never forget.

Jurors were excused for lunch in the middle of Gerald Jackson’s cross-examination. This morning’s activities were supposed to start at 9 a.m., but were delayed by an hour because Bruce Locher locked his keys in his car in Springfield, according to Judge Peter Cavanagh.

Name of judge corrected.