Photo by Elaine Rackley: Raymond Saysanit waits for his murder trial to resume during a break in the Henry County Superior courtroom. Saysanit is also charged with malice and felony murder and eight counts of aggravated assault. He is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Wells.
A man on trial for murder is expected to face his former co-defendant in the courtroom this week. Raymond Saysanit, of Lawrenceville, is charged with malice murder and felony murder, along with eight counts of aggravated assault.
His former co-defendant, Neil Eugene Armistead, of Stockbridge, avoided the murder trial by entering a plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter and seven counts of aggravated assault on Monday.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero gave Armistead a 20-year prison sentence, with 14 years to serve.
The initial murder trial for the two men ended in a mistrial last year. Saysanit and Armistead were arrested for murder in the shooting death, on Oct. 18, 2009, of Joseph Wells, 28, of Griffin. Wells was killed while visiting a home at 116 Tye St., in Stockbridge.
Saysanit and Armistead were accused of assaulting seven other individuals at the time of the shooting. They include: Crystal Hulsey, Donnie Ellenburg, Olivia Williamson, Jason Brown, Carole Ann Noschese, Rebekah Adkins and Brittany Kale.
Saysanit’s murder trial continued Wednesday before Judge Amero, as Henry County Senior Assistant District Attorney Jim Wright, and Assistant District Attorney Dave Slemmons presented witnesses.
Jurors watched a video of the crime scene, narrated by a Henry County Police crime scene investigator. The photos depicted a blood trail from the front porch of the Stockbridge home, splattered throughout the house on the floors and walls, and ending in the backyard.
One witness, Rebekah Adkins, said she was in the Tye Street house during the incident. “I was in the bathroom and I heard people rushing by the bathroom door,” she testified. “I started to come out and go into the kitchen and that’s when I heard gunshots. I knew there were people at the front door,” she continued. She said the victim, Wells, ran past her to the back door.
“I had blood all over me,” added Adkins.
Adkins told Saysanit’s defense attorney, Chris Toles, that Wells had a gun and handed it to a man called “Blue,” whose real name is Richard Jenkins.
“It looked like an old-time gun with a pearl handle,” said Adkins.
Another witness, Holly Madison, said she went to the Tye Street address with Dana Curse, Armistead, Saysanit, and two of his nephews. She testified that, at the time of the shooting, she was doing methamphetamine.
Madison, Curse and the men had gone to a car lot on Georgia Highway 54 to buy drugs. Then, the group went to the home of Hulsey, one of the shooting victims, according to Madison’s testimony.
“I heard Crystal and Neil screaming at each other, which was not uncommon,” said Madison. “Within 15 minutes, I heard gunshots.” She told the court she could not see who was firing the shots.
Curse testified that, later, she drove the Mitsubishi pickup truck used as the getaway car in the shooting. “I took off in the direction of North Henry Boulevard, not knowing where I was going,” said Curse. “I heard Raymond in the back yell, ‘Stop the truck,’ and watched as Saysanit jumped off the truck. She turned the truck around and picked him up.
“I didn’t give a damn where we were going as long as it was Clayton County-bound ... I just wanted to get out of Henry County,” testified Curse.
She said she later overheard Saysanit involved in a telephone conversation.
“I heard him say, ‘Come on, man, you got to do me this favor, you know where it’s at,’” said Curse. “‘I wrapped it in a black T-shirt and I hid it in a tunnel.’ ”
She told the court she took the men to a trailer in Jonesboro, and that was the last time she saw them.
“Three days after the shooting, Holly went to the police, herself,” said Curse. “Police was calling my cell asking if I had possession of the truck. I had been expecting it.”
Curse testified that she saw Madison later, and learned the gun, wrapped in a T-shirt, was recovered by police.
The jury heard expert testimony from Erich Smith, a Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist, who specializes in firearms. He said one of the guns used in the shooting was a .38 caliber handgun.
As Smith was being questioned by Slemmons, he told the court a .32 caliber handgun was fired at least three times, and a .38 caliber gun had been fired at least once during the incident.