Trial begins today for 2nd brother in summer 2007 killing|[06/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

With one of his brothers already found guilty of the same crime and sentenced to life in prison plus 53 more years behind bars, Matthew Nash headed to trial this morning, facing a murder charge in the shooting death last summer of 25-year-old Justin Maurice Harris.

Jury selection was completed Monday in the case being heard in Warren County Circuit Court by Judge Frank Vollor. Opening statements by Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur and Nash’s attorney, Eugene Perrier of Vicksburg, kicked off the trial this morning, and testimony was expected to follow. Vollor ordered the jury sequestered until a verdict is rendered.

Nash, 29, is one of five men accused of the killing. His trial comes two months after his brother Anthony Trevillion, 31, was found guilty by a jury of playing a role in Harris’ death.

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Nash, Trevillion and two other brothers, Alonzo, 35, and Armond Trevillion, 28, along with Rufus Armstrong, 32, were accused of the June 17, 2007, shooting at 1226 Grammar St. that killed Harris. Two other men were with Harris at the home when the shots were fired, but were not injured. Police said the gunfire followed an earlier fight at New New Orleans Cafe, a now-defunct downtown night club. Each of the five men was charged with and later indicted for murder, two counts of aggravated assault, shooting into an occupied dwelling and felony possession of a weapon.

After his April 16 conviction and automatic life sentence for murder, Anthony Trevillion was handed the maximum prison time by Vollor. Trevillion was sentenced to 20 years for each of two aggravated assault convictions, 10 years for shooting into an occupied dwelling and three more for being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon, all of which the judge ordered to run consecutively to the life sentence.

The life component, which by statute is mandatory for a murder conviction, means Trevillion is not eligible for parole until he’s 65. The 53-year sentence will start then.

Anthony Trevillion is now serving a prison term for a shooting death 12 years ago. Anthony and Armond Trevillion, 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. Anthony was 19, and Armond was 16.

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

While testifying at his own trial in April, Anthony Trevillion, represented by Jerry Campbell of Vicksburg, admitted going to the Grammar Street house with the others at about 3 a.m. and shooting into the home.

He and Harris were fathers of children by the same woman, according to various testimony.

Trevillion 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 who also testified during the trial, said killed Harris. Trevillion pointed that finger at a friend from New Orleans, whom he identified only as “Killer C.” Police Sgt. Sandra Williams, who investigated the case testified that none of the other defendants mentioned a “Killer C” in their police statements, casting doubt on whether such a person existed.

Jurors deliberated only three hours before returning their guilty verdict. An appeal notice has been filed.

Also during Trevillion’s trial, police and witness testimony revealed that Nash was responsible for luring Harris and one of the men at the Grammar Street home to the front porch just before shots were fired. Testimony did not accuse Nash of firing a weapon, but, as Arthur has said in the past, “we don’t care who pulled the trigger. All five acted in concert and all five should be held equally accountable and punished equally.”

Two days after Anthony Trevillion’s trial, 33 year-old Aletha Trevillion, of 1310 China St. Apt. B,, a sister to the Trevillions, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening a witness who testified in her brother’s trial. She was arrested again eight days later and accused of stabbing a man in the back.