Testimony ended Thursday afternoon in the 27th Judicial District Court in the first-degree murder trial of two people accused in the murder of a man who was stabbed and beaten to death in Killeen in 2017.
The jury of one man and 11 women, selected earlier this week, on Thursday saw and heard on surveillance video an argument between one of the suspects and the victim on the night of the murder, March 7, 2017.
Erica Lane Brownlee, 20, and James Tyshawn Pinkard, 23, were arrested by Killeen police in connection with the death of 38-year-old Rocky Wayne Marsh. Shamar Lamar Lewis, 19, also is charged with first-degree murder in the case but he will be tried separately, said Assistant District Attorney Cristin Lane.
She said Judge John Gauntt approved a “motion to sever” a few months ago, which is why Lewis will face trial separately.
Much testimony on Thursday surrounded about 45 minutes of video evidence from the Texan Mart convenience store at the intersection of Bundrant Drive and Lake Road, and testimony from the lead homicide detective on the case, Sharon Brank.
The case is being tried by Assistant District Attorneys Mike Waldman and Lane. The defense team consisted of attorneys Steve Duskie and David Fernandez representing Pinkard and Robert O. Harris and Joel M. Lowry defending Brownlee.
Pinkard and Brownlee each waived their right to testify on Thursday and the defense team rested their cases.
March 7, 2017
Marsh, a native of San Antonio who worked at Outback Steakhouse in Killeen, was killed in the Morgan Manor Apartments’ parking lot in the 1500 block of Bundrant Drive in north Killeen following the argument between Marsh and Pinkard, according to court testimony.
“I had been advised that Marsh had been at the store so I wanted to see what he was doing prior to his murder,” Brank said.
On the video, after several graphic threats toward Marsh, Pinkard could be seen with a crowbar getting into his car and leaving the store.
In the video, Pinkard talked about a knife Marsh showed him while the confrontation was out of view of the camera but audio still was recording.
Pinkard and Brownlee then left the scene to pick up Lewis and a juvenile male, and came back to the area.
Brank said Lewis admitted to stabbing Marsh with a screwdriver and Marsh also was hit on top of his head with a handsaw. The wounds on Marsh’s body matched the bloody screwdriver found in Pinkard’s car and the handsaw found at the scene, she said.
“So Shamar (Lewis) took credit for the fatal injury?” Harris asked Brank during cross-examination.
“He did,” Brank responded.
The three men took Marsh’s phone and other property, according to the affidavit.
Brownlee’s involvement appeared to be as the driver, according to court testimony.
Brank said a sergeant called her after 8 p.m. and when she arrived on scene Marsh already had been taken to Seton Medical Center. She interviewed four witnesses, at least one of whom admitted to being “significantly intoxicated.”
“I was shown clothing, a beer bottle, a saw, glasses and a bag that still were at the crime scene,” she said.
The next day, police stopped Pinkard and Brownlee and the car was impounded. In the video, Pinkard’s license plate numbers could be seen.
Much of the verbal confrontation between Pinkard and Marsh was captured on one of the six cameras at the store.
“You better get your a** outta here; you better watch out, bro,” Pinkard said to Marsh in the video. “You don’t know whose streets your on...you better be here when I get back. You won’t believe how many people are going to be here.”
Pinkard accused Marsh of getting too close to his “baby mama.” Brownlee was 7 months pregnant with Pinkard’s child at the time, Brank said.
Marsh is heard saying, “I won’t be here.”
Pinkard and Brownlee drove away and Marsh went inside and purchased a drink, which was later found along with the black bag from the store, at the crime scene. His glasses also were found, Brank said.
Marsh later walked away down Bundrant Drive, out of view of the store’s camera. Fourteen minutes later in the video, Pinkard’s car could be seen passing by, heading the same direction as Marsh had walked.
Brank suggested in her testimony that the Long Branch Posse gang “hangs out” in the area where the convenience store is located, and that Lewis, with the street name “Savage,” was a member. Several men at the store, including the juvenile and Lewis, were wearing orange, the gang’s color.
Defense attorneys tried to poke holes in the surveillance video evidence.
Harris pointed out interactions Marsh had with at least two other unidentified men at the store that evening.
At one point in the video, Marsh spoke with a man, who was wearing orange, in front of the store about buying narcotics, but Brank said background noise blocked out much of the conversation.
Another man accused Marsh of being a cop.
Harris brought up the possibility that Marsh had a knife.
“I have no evidence that he had a knife,” Brank said.
Suspects and victim
Pinkard, of Killeen, was arrested on March 10, 2017 and is the only one of the suspects not listed in Bell County custody. He was given a $1 million bond when arraigned and was released on Sept. 22, 2017, according to Bell County Chief Deputy Chuck Cox.
Brownlee, of Houston, was arrested on March 8, 2017 and is listed in the Bell County Jail with a $100,000 bond on the murder charge.
Lewis, of Killeen, was arrested on March 9, 2017 and is listed in the Bell County Jail with $700,000 bonds on the first-degree felony charge of murder and a third-degree felony charge of obstruction or retaliation.
Marsh was a father of three, a chef and worked most of his life in the food industry, according to an obituary in the Herald. Marsh has several family members from the San Antonio area. At least three family members were present in the courtroom on Thursday.
Closing arguments are set to begin Friday morning.