Defendant says third man committed Sky Farm crimes
[04/13/01] COLUMBUS “Reggie” did it, Romika Perkins testified Thursday.
The 26-year-old Perkins, facing multiple life sentences if convicted here during jury deliberations expected today, said he was at a Sky Farm Avenue home in Vicksburg on July 18, 1999, when the homeowner and a mother and her children were terrorized, but someone named Reggie must have done the beating, raping and robbing.
His testimony conflicted with his videotaped statement made the day of his arrest and played for jurors Wednesday. With details matching the testimony of the victims who appeared earlier in the week, Perkins describes on the tape how the family was locked in a utility closet, how Glenn Triplett, 67, who had the house for sale, was beaten with a baseball bat, how he forced sex with Lorie Stevens, 36, and how both were robbed. There was no mention of Reggie on the tape, just Derrick Warren, 19, also indicted and facing trial on the same charges in May.
Perkins told jurors, sequestered since Monday, that he didn’t mention Reggie to police on July 19, the day of his arrest, because he didn’t want to be a snitch.
During cross examination, Assistant District Attorney John Bullard pointed out that Perkins did tell police about Warren, and wondered why he protected “Reggie.”
“I felt if someone was going to tell about Reggie it should be Warren, not me,” Perkins replied.
Perkins then said he agreed to make the tape, saying that he committed the crimes because Detective Randy Naylor promised him probation instead of jail time if he confessed. Naylor testified in an earlier hearing that there was no coercion.
Perkins said he and the two other men arrived at the 2090 Sky Farm home that Sunday morning because he thought a friend of his was renting the two-story house located about 200 yards off the road.
“We go there and realized that he wasn’t living there anymore so we just hung out and got high and drank beer,” Perkins said.
During direct examination Perkins said he was in the back seat of Reggie’s car when the Stevens family, who were to look at the vacant home as prospective buyers, drove up. He said he watched Warren and Reggie herd the family into the home.
“I got out of the car and ran into the house a few minutes later when I heard another car pulling up,” he said. That was Triplett, who was to show the house.
Stevens, who has since moved to Virginia, her son Joseph Stevens and Triplett all testified Tuesday that only two men were in the house with them that day. Also, photos taken at an ATM when Stevens’ bank card was used after the assault show only the two men charged.
“Is Reggie your imaginary friend?,” Bullard asked Perkins. “Is he invisible?”
Perkins testified that when he got into the house, Reggie and Warren had already put the family in a utility closet.
“I was just trying to calm everybody down and telling Derrick and Reggie we should just leave but they didn’t want to,” he said.
Perkins said Thursday that it was Reggie who had a gun, not he, which contradicts his statement to police and witness testimony.
“I didn’t take Mr. Triplett’s wallet and I didn’t beat him and I didn’t have sex with Ms. Stevens,” Perkins said.
He said he wasn’t aware of anyone raping Stevens or forcing her to perform oral sex as she testified Tuesday. She also said that after an hour of being brutalized, three of her children were left locked in a utility closet, she was tied to her 14-year-old son and that she thought Triplett, beaten unconscious with a baseball bat, was dead.
Perkins said Warren and Reggie left the house after about an hour, but he stayed behind to wipe his fingerprints off of anything he had come in contact with and then walked to his mother’s home on Alcorn Drive. No usable prints were found in the house.
“I got to my mom’s house and sat outside on my car drinking a beer,” Perkins said.
Bullard asked Perkins if he gave any thought to the six people he left in the house, “I did the best I could do for them,” Perkins said.
Perkins said he didn’t take the ATM cards that bank cameras recorded him using about 30 minutes after the crime took place.
“I did tell her to write down her PIN number, but that was just so Derrick would leave her alone,” he said.
Perkins said he obtained possession of the cards after Warren and Reggie came to his mother’s house and asked him to withdraw the money for them. “I think they wanted me to do it so I would be implicated because they didn’t like the way I was being nice to the Stevenses and Mr. Triplett at the house.”
Perkins said that was he in the bank photos, but he gave the money to Warren.
Explaining why the aluminum bat used to assault Triplett was found in the trunk of his car on the day of his arrest, Perkins said Warren had placed it there.
Julie Golden, who was employed as a DNA specialist at a New Orleans laboratory, testified Thursday that samples taken from the bat matched a blood sample taken from Triplett.
Perkins’ attorney, Chris Klotz, called no witnesses other than the defendant.
The trial is being held at the Lowndes County Courthouse after Circuit Judge Frank Vollor granted Klotz’s change of venue motion citing pretrial publicity. Warren’s trial is scheduled for May 21 in Greenwood.