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Posted: April 12, 2017 2:09 p.m.

Jury hears testimony in murder trial

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COVINGTON, Ga. - In the first full day of testimony in the trial of a Covington teen accused of the murder of Enrique Ramirez Trejo, jurors heard opening arguments and testimony from law enforcement and witnesses as the prosecution tried to prove its case against Antavian Love.

Love, who was 16 at the time of his arrest last June, faces multiple charges for the shooting death of Trejo, whose body was found in a ditch on the side of Lower River Road. Love was reportedly found and arrested while driving Trejo’s 1999 Ford Expedition.

Assistant District Attorney Tabitha Rogers told the jury Trejo was doing a good deed when he gave Love and two juveniles a ride from a Covington Bypass Shell station the night of June 18, 2016.

Jurors heard the 911 call made by the man who saw Trejo’s body lying in the ditch on the side of the road. They heard from the first responding Newton County Sheriff’s (NCSO) deputies who initially responded to the scene and the NCSO crime scene technician who secured the evidence, including a .40 caliber shell casing found at the scene.

They, along with others in attendance in the courtroom, saw crime scene photos of Trejo’s lifeless body on the side of the road.

Jurors also heard from the Covington Police Department (CPD) officers who arrested Love less than 24 hours after the murder when he was seen at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Turner Lake Roads driving Trejo’s vehicle. According to the police officer’s testimony, Love, with three others in the vehicle, refused to stop for the officer on Brown Bridge Road and turned into the Brown Bridge Crossing subdivision. In the subdivision, the vehicle eventually stopped and four people ran from it. Love and one other person were taken into custody by CPD inside Turner Lake Park.  The other two were also reportedly arrested.

Jurors heard from two juveniles who said they witnessed the killing. They testified separately that they had been approached by Love to go to McDonald’s, with Love offering to buy them food. According to both juveniles, when they found McDonald’s closed, Love suggested that they go to the Marathon gas station at the intersection of Covington Bypass and Highway 36 to get a ride.

According to their testimonies, after Love approached and was turned down by two people for a ride at the Marathon, he suggested they go to the Shell station, which is diagonally across the intersection. There, according to the teens, Love was again turned down by two drivers before Trejo allowed them into his vehicle.

Testifying separately, they told the jury Love told Trejo to keep driving past Puckett Street where they thought they should turn. They both described how, after they did turn, Love told Trejo to stop because he left his phone on the top of the car.

According to both juveniles, once the SUV was stopped, Love got out and acted like he was searching for his phone before pulling out a weapon and shooting Trejo.

“He just pulled out his gun and shot him,” is how the youngest of the pair described it.

Each testified how Love then dragged Trejo’s body from the vehicle and left it on the side of the road. According to their testimonies, neither teen helped with removing the body from the car.

They both testified Love threatened to kill them if they told anybody. They testified that they then went home and got up Sunday morning and went to church.

Jurors heard from Dr. Keith Lehman of the State Medical Examiner’s Office, who testified that Trejo suffered four gunshot wounds. He explained the trajectory of the bullets through Trejo’s body and said all four would have been fatal.

Also testifying were investigators from the NCSO who executed a search warrant at Love’s residence and found the alleged murder weapon. According to expert witness Kyle Wheelus, a firearms examiner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) Crime Lab who examined and tested the weapon, the Taurus .40 caliber pistol found by investigators was the weapon used to kill Trejo.

Court is in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, April 13.

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