Avery Berry murder trial, second day: morning recap

By Gary Scott on July 14, 2016 at 12:12pm

The state has rested its case in the first-degree murder trial of Jacksonville native 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.

Avery Berry’s defense attorney, Bruce Locher, said in an opening statement yesterday that the defense wasn’t denying that Berry shot Jackson, but argued he was coming to the defense of Shakil Berry, who was reportedly engaged in a one-on-one fight with Marcus Jackson.

Prosecutors called Jacksonville Police Detective Brad Rogers and Officer Lucas Poore to the stand this morning, who said it didn’t appear Shakil Berry had any physical injuries when they evaluated him after the shooting.

Locher, who yesterday asked witnesses how many times they had talked with prosecutors before the trial, asked Rogers if he had been trained on how to testify in court.

Following that, we heard from pathologist Nathaniel Patterson, who confirmed that Jackson’s death was caused by the three gunshot wounds he received. Autopsy photos showed one of the shots pierced one of Jackson’s lungs and his heart.

Autopsy photos also showed injuries on Jackson’s face and head that were described as blunt-force injuries. Patterson testified that could have been caused by a fist.

Locher asked if any blood-alcohol testing was done, to which the state objected. The court recessed, and after some more questioning of Patterson, the state rested its case.

The jury was excused, and the scene then shifted to the smaller courtroom in the Morgan County Courthouse to hear a request for a record offer of proof from Locher. That’s when he got the answer to his previous question; Patterson said there were traces of Xantax, marijuana, alcohol and caffeine in Jackson’s system.

Locher then asked the court for an acquittal, saying the state has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That motion was denied by Judge Peter Cavanaugh.

Activity is scheduled to resume at 12:45.