The first murder of 2007 will be the first major case to be tried in 2008.
The trial of Willie Dyer, Xavier Dyer and Christopher Rozier will begin Monday for their alleged involvement in the February 2007 murder of Rufus Richardson. The crime was the first of a record string of murders in 2007.
Newton County Sheriff's investigators said Liberty Harris, Larry Barr, Willie Dyer, Xavier Dyer and Rozier conspired to murder Richardson whom they believed to be a snitch. When an attempt to poison Richardson with drugs laced with rat poison failed to do the trick, the group reportedly made the decision to dispose of him in a more effective way. People riding their four-wheelers later found the bullet-riddled body in the woods.
In court, Newton County Assistant District Attorney Melanie McCrorey said Richardson was shot twice in the face and once in the underarm while he was reportedly trying to defend himself. Xavier, Dyer and Rozier are believed to have been the actual shooters.
Harris, Xavier Dyer, and Rozier were all charged with malice murder while Willie Dyer and Barr were charged with being a party to the crime of murder. The charges against Barr were later dead docketed, which, in general terms, means the charges against him were dropped but can be revisited at a later date.
Harris was scheduled to accept a plea-bargained deal Thursday, but she reportedly backed out at the last minute, McCrorey said. She is still expected to testify against Willie Dyer, Xavier Dyer and Rozier after receiving a court order of immunity.
McCrorey said Harris' testimony cannot be used against her when she is prosecuted for her reported involvement in the murder.
"She has to be tried separately from the others because she gave statements to investigators indicating the other's involvement in the murder," McCrorey said.
Harris' immunity covers everything she might say on the stand unless she perjures herself.