Rodger Scales murder trial: Woman tearfully recalls blast that killed her fiance in 2010

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 23, 2013 

Angela Crawford wept as she recounted the day a shotgun blast fired through the front door blew open her boyfriend's forehead, splattering their living room with blood and bone fragments as a barrage of other gunfire followed.

By the time the firing finally subsided the evening of Nov. 9, 2010, her fiance, Kelley Leggett, 52, lay dead on the floor by the front door; his 65-year-old brother, Theodore Leggett, lay wounded nearby; and Crawford remained huddled by a kitchen cabinet where she took cover, unaware that she also had been sprayed with buckshot.

Prosecutor LaRae Moore said they were the victims of would-be robbers trying to raid the home of two women to whom one of the suspects had sold drugs, but the raiders went to the wrong apartment at 475 Old Buena Vista Road in Columbus and tried to force their way in.

Crawford testified Tuesday in the murder trial of Rodger Scales, one of five men who have been charged in the case. Two have pleaded guilty in exchange for their testimony. Two others will be tried at a later date.

Now 44, Crawford recalled that she and Kelley Leggett that afternoon had discussed moving away from the apartment they shared with his brother, who had moved to Columbus only days earlier.

"We was like, 'We really need to get out of this area.' … It was drug infested," she said.

That night around 7, they were watching movies together. Because Theodore Leggett thought he'd just found a job, they were in a celebratory mood.

Having just watched the film "The Time Traveler's Wife," they had started on another video called "1,000 Ways to Die." Crawford lost her composure as she recounted the title.

They heard "a light knock" at the door, she said, and Kelley Leggett got up and twice asked "Who is it?" He opened the door to look out, then tried to slam it shut, shouting, "Angela, get down!"

The first shotgun blast hit him as his brother got up to help, stepping past Kelley Leggett to slide a bolt on the door. Then a second blast came through, wounding the brother, who also collapsed.

Then came the other shots, Crawford said: "They're coming from all over the house, and Kelley dropped and Teddy dropped." When the shooting stopped, she got her cellphone and called 911. The dispatcher suggested she apply pressure to the men's wounds. She could see then that nothing could save her fiancee, she said.

Police summoned to the scene described the horror. Officer Kyle Johnson said the force of the blast splattered blood on a wall 12 feet away, and he had never seen a house so shot up.

Police Cpl. Dan Franklin, now retired, found bone fragments and human tissue scattered over the living room. He also found multiple bullet holes, bullets and buckshot pellets in the house, some having come through the kitchen and penetrated walls to lodge in the bedroom. Outside he found shell casings from a 12-gauge shotgun, a 9 mm handgun and a .380-caliber firearm.

Today some of the shotgun pellets remain in the survivors. Crawford, who didn't even realize she was wounded until she felt pain while detectives interviewed her at police headquarters, said she still has two pellets in her body. Theodore Leggett said he has four or five.

He said that as the gunfire ended, he could hear someone outside the apartment say, "It's the wrong house."

Having moved to Columbus from Baton Rouge, La., because his brother suggested he would be safer near his family, Theodore Leggett said he stayed here four months before moving to Washington.

Prosecutor Moore contends Scales was the one who fired the fatal blast.

Scales' attorney, Cynthia Lain, said the prosecution's case relies heavily on the testimony of other suspects who have reason to pin the crime on Scales: They are related to each other, and he's not.

The first to be arrested were two brothers, Cleveland and Tevin Gary. They were captured early the next morning in Phenix City after police there followed their mother's car to Riverview Apartments and noticed her two sons nearby.

With her in a 1983 Chevy Malibu was Jarvis Alexander, her nephew. In the backseat police found a 9 mm Glock pistol, Moore said.

The Gary brothers were in a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass. In that car police found a pink .380-caliber pistol, Moore said. Police detained all four, arresting Alexander because he already was wanted on other charges in Columbus.

Tevin Gary told police other weapons were at his mother's South Dixon Drive home in Columbus, Moore said. The next day investigators found a cache of weapons hidden in the crawl space of a vacant house next door to the Garys, including a pellet rifle, a Russian-made bolt-action rifle, a .22-caliber rifle, two 12-gauge shotguns, and ammunition for 9 mm, .380-caliber and .38-caliber firearms, Franklin testified.

Besides Scales, the two Gary brothers and their cousin Alexander also initially were charged with Leggett's slaying. So was Daveka Wade, who allegedly sold drugs to the Leggett's neighbors and hatched the scheme to "hit a lick," or rob his customers of their drugs and money.

The Gary brothers since have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and are expected to testify against the others.

Lain told the jury Tuesday that like Alexander, Wade also is one of the Garys' cousins. She noted the Garys were found with all the weapons, not Scales, and being kin, they have motivation to make Scales the one primarily responsible for Leggett's homicide.

She said Scales was recruited only to drive one of two vehicles the raiders used, and he waited at a nearby car wash with the cars as the others fired into the Leggetts' house before running back and ordering Scales to drive Cleveland Gary's car away.

Witnesses reported the raiders were dressed in all black, but Scales that day wore a white T-shirt and blue jeans, Lain said. Witnesses also said the man with a shotgun had dreadlocks, not the short hair Scales had, she said.

Moore said the jury will hear testimony from witnesses who later saw Scales with a busted lip and chipped tooth he told them he got when the shotgun bucked on the second blast, smacking him in the mouth.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service