First Trevillion brother guilty of murder|[04/17/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 17, 2008

The first of four brothers among five people accused of tracking down and killing Justin Maurice Harris faces life in prison and up to 53 more years when he is sentenced in May.

Jurors deliberated only three hours before ending a three-day trial and returning the verdict against Anthony Trevillion, 30.

“We feel that justice was served today,” said Jessica Harris, a sister of the victim, who was 25 when he was gunned down June 17 inside a home at 1224 Grammar St.

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In addition to murder, Trevillion, who has served a previous 15-year aggravated assault conviction, was also found guilty of shooting into an occupied dwelling, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm as a felon.

The sentence for murder is life, by statute. His sentencing for the other convictions was scheduled for May 2. The life component means he is not eligible for parole until he’s 65.

“Both families will be in my prayers,” said a woman with the Harris family who did not want to be identified. “This was not only a loss for our family, it’s now a loss for their family as well.”

Trials are pending for Alonzo Trevillion, 35, Armond Trevillion, 28, and Matthew Nash, 29, all brothers of the first defendant to be tried, along with Rufus Armstrong, 32. Dates have not been set.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of the four brothers was at Anthony Trevillion’s trial, but declined to be interviewed.

During his testimony Tuesday, Anthony Trevillion admitted going to the residence on Grammar Street and shooting into the home about 3 a.m. He said he fired a 12-gauge shotgun, not an AK-47 assault rifle, which Dr. Steven Hayne, a pathologist with the Mississippi State Crime Lab, said killed Harris. Trevillion pointed the finger at a friend from New Orleans, whom he identified only as “Killer C.”

Vicksburg Police Sgt. Sandra Williams, who investigated the case and also testified Tuesday, said that none of the other defendants mentioned a “Killer C” in their police statements, and “Killer C” was never a legitimate suspect.

“Even if Anthony Trevillion didn’t fire the gun that killed Justin Maurice Harris, he is still guilty for acting in concert with the others,” Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur told jurors in his closing statement.

During the defense’s closing statement, attorney Jerry Campbell asked jurors to look into the possibility of a manslaughter conviction instead of murder. Campbell argued that Anthony Trevillion participated in the violent crime due to “heat of passion” or “uncontrollable rage,” which is a determining factor for a manslaughter conviction.

The defendant and Harris were fathers of children by the same woman, according to testimony. That was the root of the dispute.

Arthur explained that the killing was planned, not a burst of emotion, tracking the locations and encounters between the two over several hours, including the defendant seeking information about where he could find Harris and then going to the house.

“That’s not uncontrollable rage,” Arthur said to the jurors. “He knew what he was doing.”

The life sentence handed to Trevillion comes less than a week after Quinton Williams, 21, was sentenced to 98 years for kidnapping and robbing an expectant mother and her 3-year-old son at gunpoint.

“Like I’ve said all along, we’re not going to tolerate repeat offenders or violent offenders,” said District Attorney Ricky Smith. “Both Trevillion and Williams were dangers to this community and both were prior convicted felons. And thanks to my staff, law enforcement and the jurors, our streets are safer.”

Anthony Trevilion’s previous conviction comes from a shooting 12 years ago. He and one brother, Armond, along with two other men, were 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 codefendants 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.