For the second time this year, a jury convened on Tuesday to hear the murder case against Jamaall Marquez Pridgett, the 20-year-old who is charged with opening fire during a dice game in October 2008. The prosecution claims Pridgett opened fire in cold blood, while the defense says Pridgett shot only to defend himself.
A mistrial was declared in the case in April. Pridgett is facing murder and other charges in connection with a shooting in a small apartment on West Street the night of Oct. 7, 2008. Four men were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. One, 20-year-old Jerome “Cardell” Glover, died two days later.
“Mr. Glover cannot come and tell you his story today, because he was murdered,” said Newton CountyAssistant District Attorney Clint C. Malcolm. “… And all the evidence is going to show that Mr. Pridgett didn’t have a scratch on him,” he said. “Greed, robbery, gun violence and cold-blooded murder; that is what this case is going to be about,” said Malcolm. “This was a cold-blooded act, a cold-blooded shooting, of people who he (Pridgett) considered to be his friends.”
But Pridgett’s public defender, Teri Smith, told jurors in her opening statement that the case wasn’t about greed at all.
“What this case is about is an 18-year-old boy who was attacked, who was outnumbered and who was afraid, pure and simple,” she said. “…Violence did take place in that home that evening… But he acted in self-defense.”
Several Covington Police Officers told jurors about what they found when they arrived at them home. The surviving shooting victims also testified.
According to Tavorris “T-Rock” Shy, 30, the evening started off on a friendly note. Everyone had gathered at Pridgett’s home to shoot dice. Shy testified that he saw a gun in the living room when he arrived, and the thought crossed his mind then, that things could turn ugly.
“When I seen the gun I figured something might happen, but I didn’t figure we’d get shot up,” he said.
Shy said that he heard Pridgett say “Bet P” [ referring to another victim there, Martec “Pumpkin” Barkley], while he was shooting dice, immediately followed by a “pow.” When asked how fast everything happened, Shy snapped his fingers and said that it happened fast.
He also told jurors how after he heard the first gunshot he looked up and saw Pridgett with a gun. According to Shy Pridgett told them all to “get down” and he complied, getting on his stomach and covering the back of his head with his hands.
Jurors also listened to the 911 recording of Shy’s call for help. He testified that he felt like he was going to die. He was shot through the finger and in the back of the head, once in the side and again in the chest. He ran from the house, but “didn't make it any further than the railroad tracks,” according to his testimony, before he collapsed in front of a CPD patrol car.
Martec “Pumpkin” Barkley, 18, who was shot in the side of the head, said he heard Pridgett say “Bet, P” to him as he was shooting dice and then “blacked out.” He told jurors that he remembered hearing screams and more gunshots, and also heard one of the other victims say “ Bro, please don't kill us over this little bit of money.” Barkley told jurors that after being shot in the head, he felt Pridgett go into both of his pants pockets, removing his money from one pocket and planting a crack rock in the other.
Barkley was found by a CPD officer on his back in front of the West Street home, blood pooling beneath his head. Since the shooting he has nerve damage on the left side of his face, suffers from seizures and is deaf in his left ear. He also told jurors that at one point, Pridgett called him from the Newton County Detention Center and said “cuz, come down here and drop the charges and we'll handle this on the street.”
Sedarius “Ronte” Stephens, 23, was shot in the hand and the chest and testified about his experience that night as well. He said that Pridgett had called him that day and told him they were shooting dice and that he should come over. Roughly an hour after he arrived at the home, the shooting started, according to Stephens.
“As soon as he shot Pumpkin he shot everybody else,” said Stephens, who also said he heard Pridgett say “give it up... you know what time it is.”
Stephens denied having a gun that day.
“Didn't nobody have a gun that day but Jamaall,” he said.
Smith brought up Stephens and Shy's criminal histories, both of which have drug charges, as well as a charge of giving false information to an officer for Stephens in 2006.
Covington Officer Justin Blankenship testified that he was the first officer to enter the house and found Glover on his back in the kitchen. He said the 20-year-old was attempting to sit up but was unable to do so, and that he was crying, saying that he thought he was dying. As Blankenship testified, Glover’s older sister Dominique Stanley left the courtroom in tears.
“He said he thought he'd been shot in the head but there was just so much blood I couldn't tell,” said Blankenship. “When I asked him who had shot him in the head he didn't hesitate to say Jamaall Pridgett.”
Chase Clemmons, Pridgett’s girlfriend at the time, was a more agreeable witness the second time around. In the first trial, she was cautioned by Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton about perjury. This time, she answered questions without pause, testifying that she fled with Pridgett and drove him to his uncle’s home in Porterdale where he was found later that night.
Clemmons, 22, testified that she spent most of that day in the bedroom of the home she shared with Pridgett, saying that while she knew some of the men who were there that day, they were not there for her. She also told jurors that at some point that day Pridgett came into the bedroom and told her that he was going to rob Pumpkin, not a threat she took seriously.
“He said it in a joking manner,” she explained. “He said it with a laugh. I didn't believe he would do something like that.”
Later that night when she first heard gunshots she said she left her bedroom and peeked into the kitchen where she saw Glover “laying there bleeding.” She said she heard Pridgett in the living room with his little brother Jamarcus “Montel” Pridgett, who was 15-years-old at the time of the shooting.
“I heard him [Jamaall] say 'Tel, get the money'” she said.
She then went out a side door of the house and seconds later both Jamaall and Jamarcus Pridgett came running out of the house and headed to their mother's house. She said she followed them and saw Pridgett give the murder weapon to his cousin, then at his request, used his mother's vehicle to drive him to the home in Porterdale.
“I was scared,” she said, when asked why she stayed with Pridgett. “I wasn't sure what had happened and I wondered if he [Pridgett] had really done what he said he was going to do.”
The case is scheduled to continue today and potentially through the week. See The Covington News website at Covnews.com for more on the trial.