Jurors in Rodger Scales' murder trial hear from codefendant Tevin Gary; defense claims family collusion

Trial continues in wrong-home invasion that killed Kelley Leggett

tchitwood@ledger-enqurier.comJuly 29, 2013 

Mike Haskey mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Rodger Scales returns to the defense table after he, his attorney, and the prosecution team conferenced at the bench with Superior Court Judge Gil McBride Wednesday morning. Scales faces charges connected to the 2010 shooting death of Kelley Leggett during an attempted robbery. 07/24/13

MIKE HASKEY

Jurors in the murder trial of Rodger Scales heard Monday from one of two codefendants who pleaded guilty in the Nov. 10, 2010, death of 52-year-old Kelley Leggett, killed by a shotgun blast to the head as would-be robbers tried to force open the door of his 475 Old Buena Vista Road apartment.

The witness was Tevin Gary, 20, who with brother Cleveland Gary has pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for testimony. Initially charged with murder, Tevin Gary has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 10 on probation for conspiracy to commit robbery and theft by receiving stolen property.

On Monday he told prosecutor LaRae Moore that he did not accompany his brother, Scales and other suspects as they left the Garys’ 1253 South Dixon Drive home that day to “hit a lick,” or commit a robbery. He testified that before the others left, he overheard Scales and his brother talking about the scheme with Daveka Wade, and he saw them put guns in his brother’s Oldsmobile Cutlass, including his own .380-caliber pistol, which he loaned to Scales.

Before he gave Scales the handgun, he removed a bullet from the chamber and put it in his pants pocket, he said. The other weapons stowed in the Cutlass included a shotgun and his brother’s 9mm pistol, he said.

His brother and Scales returned in 30 to 45 minutes, Tevin Gary said. He said someone driving a black Chevy Tahoe later dropped off Wade, who told them he had just seen ambulances and police cars near the crime scene.

Cleveland Gary then remarked that the would-be robbers had gone to the wrong house, and he kept asking Scales why he fired, eliciting no response, Tevin Gary said. He said he became worried when he overheard them say someone had been killed, because he feared his pistol fired the fatal shot.

Prosecutors allege Scales fired the fatal shotgun blast as Leggett tried to secure his front door after looking out and seeing men with guns. Authorities said Wade hatched the plot to rob women to whom he had just sold drugs, but Wade did not participate in the raid because the women would have recognized him.

Police allege the other suspects went not to the women’s apartment but to Leggett’s, which is in the same complex, and after killing him, they fired a barrage into the house with the shotgun, the 9mm and the .380, wounding Leggett’s brother and fiancee.

Scales’ defense attorney Cynthia Lain maintains the Garys have colluded to pin the homicide on her client to deflect blame from their family. Also charged in Leggett’s death are Wade and Jarvis Alexander. Both are Evelyn Gary’s nephews and her sons’ cousins. Scales is the only defendant who is not related to the others, Lain noted.

While cross-examining Tevin Gary, Lain noted contradictions in what he initially told police and what he testified to Monday, and pointed out other testimony that sounded dubious.

In his initial statement, Tevin Gary said he saw no shotgun go into the Cutlass. On Monday he said he saw his brother get a shotgun and other weapons and give the shotgun to Scales.

He said he gave Scales no bullets for the .380, yet police at the homicide scene found the same Aguila brand of ammo as the bullet later found in Tevin Gary’s pocket.

He said Scales never gave him back his pistol, yet when he and his brother were detained early the next morning in Phenix City, police found the .380 pistol in the floorboard of his brother’s Cutlass.

About 3 a.m. that night, a Columbus patrol officer spotted the Cutlass on Buena Vista Road at Eighth Street and chased it, reaching speeds that topped 100 mph.

Yet Tevin Gary testified Tuesday that he had fallen asleep in the Cutlass’ back seat, and slept through the police pursuit. He said he had no recollection of it, waking only when Phenix City police later ordered him to get out of the car at Riverview Apartments, where his brother parked after eluding officers in Columbus.

Also detained that night in Phenix City were his mother Evelyn Gary and cousin Jarvis Alexander. In Evelyn Gary’s Chevy Malibu, police found Cleveland Gary’s 9mm Glock. Yet Tevin Gary testified his mother had the Malibu all that evening, so it was not used during the attempted raid. He could not explain how his brother’s gun wound up in it.

He acknowledged having driven the Malibu earlier that day to sell drugs at Columbus’ Booker T. Washington Apartments, but said he took it back home so his mother could drive it to work.

Witnesses described as primer-gray two cars armed men in black exited at a car wash near Leggett’s apartment before gunfire erupted. Both the Cutlass and the Malibu have primer gray.

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