The trial of murder suspect Steven Lackey will continue today as final witnesses are called and closing arguments are presented by the defense and prosecution.
Assistant District Attorney Melanie McCrorey offered her case Tuesday against Lackey, who is accused of murdering Larry Richardson Jr. in February. In her opening argument, McCrorey painted Lackey as a cold-blooded killer who intended to commit murder.
Lackey's defense contended the accused had only wanted to scare the victim and his gun accidentally went off in the process.
"This was anything but intentional," said Assistant Public Defender Teri Smith.
According to Smith, Lackey was upset after allegedly discovering Richardson physically abused his son, Amir, and his ex-girlfriend, Christina Parker. In an interview recorded after the shooting and played in court Tuesday, Lackey said Amir did not want to be around Richardson because the man had jumped on his mother.
After the shooting, Lackey reportedly told Newton County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Watterson he never meant for Richardson to be harmed.
"He explained that he wanted to bully or intimidate him because he had jumped on Miss Parker," Watterson said Tuesday.
In her opening remarks, Smith asserted that Lackey's family members had also been told by Parker that Richardson had previously shook Amir viciously and had thrown the child on the bed.
While on the stand Tuesday, Parker denied having made the statements and insisted Richardson was a nonviolent man. Parker also said she, not Richardson, handled Amir's discipline.
The alleged crime occurred on Morningside Drive at Lackey's house when Parker and Richardson arrived to pick up Amir. Richardson was supposed to pick Amir up from preschool, but Lackey's mother and sister had previously taken the child after he reportedly cried that he did not want to go with Richardson.
Once at the residence, Parker entered the house while Richardson stayed in the car and smoked a cigarette. While inside, Parker and Lackey reportedly argued about Richardson's suspected abuse of the child.
In court, Parker said she told Lackey that Richardson was not abusive, but he did not believe her and said he was going to tell him not to touch his child again. She said Lackey then exited the house carrying the gun with his left hand.
"First (Lackey) yelled, 'Get out of the car,'" Parker said. "(Richardson) was sitting in the car smoking. Then (Lackey) leaned into the window and pulled the trigger and shot him. I saw the smoke and the blood."
In the recorded interview played in court, Lackey said he never pulled the trigger.
"The (gun) just went off," he said as he cried uncontrollably. "It just went off. Boom."
Also in the interview, Lackey said the gun was not supposed to be loaded and that he and his friend's had previously played with the gun which had never fired before. He said he only carried the gun outside because Richardson was a foot taller and 60 pounds heavier than he was.
After Richardson had been shot, Parker said Lackey dropped the gun and told her there was no time for an ambulance and that they needed to drive him to the hospital. On the way there, she said, Lackey sat in the seat with Richardson and applied pressure to the bullet wounds while he prayed for Richardson's life.
The projectile pierced Richardson's neck on the right side and exited on the left side before becoming lodged in the driver's side door.
Once at the hospital, Parker said Lackey pulled her to the side.
"He said that he wanted me to lie because he didn't want to be away from Amir," Parker said.
After their brief conversation, Lackey fled the scene, she said.
Lackey was arrested minutes later across the street from Newton Medical Center. Once in custody, Lackey was reportedly transported to the Newton County Detention Center where was questioned by Watterson.
"Mr. Lackey said as he walked down the steps the gun went off accidentally," Watterson said in court.
During the interview, Lackey said he was about four feet away from Richardson when the gun went off.
This was countered by Parker who said the gun was pressed against Richardson's neck. Forensics' evidence provided by the defense backed Parker's claim. When the victim was autopsied, burn marks and gun powder were found on his neck, which are consistent with contact wounds.
A search of Lackey's house after the shooting turned up no gun, but crack cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found inside. NCSO Sgt. Sonny Goodson testified the material found suggested the home owner was a drug dealer.
Lackey is charged with felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana less than one once, tampering with evidence and obstruction of officers. His criminal background reportedly includes felony charges for domestic violence.
The defense will call their witnesses today before closing arguments are heard.