Five murder suspects get OK for separate trials|[04/01/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Five Vicksburg men facing murder charges, four of whom are brothers, will each stand trial separately.

Alonzo Trevillion, 35, Anthony Trevillion, 30, Armond Trevillion, 28, Matthew Nash, 29, and Rufus Armstrong, 32, all indicted for the June shooting death of 25-year-old Justin Maurice Harris, won their motion to have their cases considered one at a time, according to an order by Warren County Circuit Judge Frank Vollor.

While a Monday hearing was made at the request of the defendants, the prosecution, which is led by Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur, was not disappointed.

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“It can be extremely complicated to try five defendants at once,” Arthur said. “One defendant may testify against a co-defendant, and then that co-defendant will take the stand to deny that testimony. A lot of finger-pointing can happen.

“We would rather let jurors see the evidence against each of these individuals separately and let them make their decisions that way.”

While testifying at a preliminary hearing March 6, Vicksburg Police Sgt. Sandra Johnson Williams, lead investigator in the case, noted that the finger-pointing started months ago. She said that during an interrogation, Matthew Nash said it was Armond Trevillion and Anthony Trevillion who did the shooting, one with a sawed-off shotgun and the other with an AK-47 assault rifle.

The death of Harris, who was gunned down June 17 at a residence at 1224 Grammar St., was the city’s third homicide in 2007. Just after 3 a.m., Harris was returning home from a now defunct downtown nightclub on Grove Street when multiple shots were fired, one of which struck him in the left side, police said. An argument over a woman apparently had taken place at the bar, authorities said.

In addition to murder, the five co-defendants also face charges of shooting into an occupied dwelling, two counts of aggravated assault and possessing weapons after a felony conviction.

Before the severance hearing, a trial for all five defendants was scheduled for April 14. Arthur said one of the defendants will still stand trial that day, but he was not sure who it would be.

Two of the brothers are facing murder charges a second time. Twelve years ago, Armond and Anthony Trevillion, along with two other men, were charged and indicted on two counts of murder for the deaths of Nathan Carson Jr., 26, and Frederick Freeman, 19, who were shot to death Aug. 18, 1996, outside the former River City Cabaret at Mulberry and Levee streets. Armond was 16; Anthony, 19.

One of the other co-defendants took blame for the killing and murder charges against the teens were dismissed. They were convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Murder indictments from the January grand jury are also pending against Herman Green, 23, and Jason Jeobari Davis. Green is accused of shooting to death 19-year-old William Wade on May 27 and Davis, 22 of shooting to death 21-year-old Thaddeus Jeffrey on Sept 2.