Not guilty - Jury clears Davis of 2012 murder charge
Tracy Davis (white shirt) enters the courtroom during his trial last week.
In the August term of General Sessions court last week, Tracy Davis was found not guilty of murdering Leon Brown last year. The jury took less than two hours to return the verdict Thursday.
Davis was accused of gunning down Brown during an armed robbery at 148 Davis St., Blackville, on Aug. 27, 2012.
During the trial, the time leading up to Brown's death was described as a robbery that went bad.
Davis did not take the stand to testify, but Aubrey Bernard Robinson, who is also charged with murder in the death of Brown, did testify.
From testimony given in court, Robinson, a cousin and a female went to Columbia Aug. 26 to purchase a pound of marijuana from Leon Brown.
After returning from Columbia, Robinson said his cousin decided he wanted to purchase more marijuana, possibly four pounds.
Robinson set up the deal for the following day. He testified Brown was to come to his cousin Leon Mack's house in Blackville with the drugs.
On Aug. 27, Tracy Davis called Robinson and they talked about each having money problems.
Robinson said, "He (Davis) wanted me to find somebody we could rob."
Later, when Robinson went to Davis' house, he said Davis learned of the upcoming drug deal.
Robinson said he was to go to Mack's house and see how many people were there.
After leaving Mack's house, Robinson said, he went and picked up Davis.
Upon returning to Mack's house, Robinson testified he and Davis entered the home where, he said, Davis produced a handgun and pointed it at Brown. Robinson said Davis told him to grab the drugs. Robinson said he grabbed the trash bag full of marijuana and ran from the house to his car parked outside.
Robinson said Brown had a shotgun leaning against the wall near where he was sitting in the house.
He testified Davis began backing out of the house and exited down the ramp to the side of the screened porch. Brown pursued Davis out of the house and onto the porch with his shotgun. Just as Davis got to Robinson's car, shots rang out, Robinson said.
As the shooting began, Robinson said, he backed up and sped away. He said he heard multiple gunshots. When further questioned he said he heard "more than two" but less than 10 shots.
No bullet casings were recovered from the scene except several shotgun shells and a casing that were in the house/porch area near Brown. The shotgun was recovered at the scene but no murder weapon was ever recovered.
Robinson said as he was speeding away, he saw Davis running down the street. He said he stopped and Davis jumped into his back seat.
He said he then drove Davis to a house near his home and dropped him off.
In closing arguments, Assistant Solicitor Susie Ringler said, "We don't have the murder weapon. The reason is because Tracy Davis took it with him (when he left the scene)."
Ringler said after Davis shot Brown, Mack pulled him back into the house and called EMS.
She said expert testimony given during the trial by a SLED officer indicated Brown was bending over when he was shot.
During investigations, Robinson gave several statements to police.
Robinson gave a statement the night of the murder, the next day, one in the spring and one approximately six weeks before the trial.
Defense attorney Lir Derieg of Columbia asked Robinson about the inconsistencies in his statements.
Robinson said he was "not completely" truthful in any of the statements until his last statement.
"On behalf of my client and my private investigator, Jay Phillips of Byrd Investigations, I'd like to thank the jury for its exemplary service," Derieg said in an email. "We put a great deal of time into exposing the lies of the State's witnesses and showing the jury that the physical evidence didn't even connect Mr. Davis to the crime scene, much less connecting him to any murder."
"The jury applied law, as instructed by the Judge, to the evidence and testimony presented and rendered the only possible just verdict, not guilty," Derieg said.
"We'd also like to thank the entire staffs of the Barnwell County Clerk of Court's Office, the Solicitor's Office, and the Sheriff's Department for the warm way we were welcomed into their county and courthouse. The hospitality and professionalism shown to us all week can't be overstated," he said.
Davis was also charged with an unrelated assault and battery charge, Derieg said.
Davis has already served more than the maxium sentence for the assault charge but will have to enter a plea against the charge at a later time, he said.
Derieg said his client plans to enter a plea today.
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