The prosecution described three men on the first day of their murder trial as a "wolf pack" engaged in a crime spree across Columbus that ended in the death of a Springfield, Mo., man.
Joseph Allen Curry, 21; Mario Antwone Myers, 19; and Alton Markail McCoy, 19, are all accused of murdering James Hallam, 49, who died Dec. 14, 2006, in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn on Bear Lane. Assistant District Attorney Crawford Seals said Wednesday that some of the men, who were all teens the day of Hallam's death, also were linked to a series of crimes — including armed robbery and aggravated assault — the same day that became more egregious as the night grew.
"It was simply madness," Seals told jurors in his opening statement. "They would go from crime scene to crime scene . . . each one more violent than the next until James Hallam was dead."
Hallam had arrived in Columbus at 11 p.m. with his girlfriend, preparing to take her son home with them for the Christmas holiday that began the next day, Seals said. They'd just checked into their room, and Hallam returned to the car to get some of their belongings when the prosecutor said the three defendants stepped onto the scene.
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"If the defendants had just kept their mouths shut, this would have been the perfect crime," Seals said. "This was a trophy kill. This was so they could brag."
Seals said after Hallam died, the defendants went to a house on Englewood Drive around midnight. They had a gun and hundreds of dollars, at one point singing "Hundreds on the table and twenties on the floor" as they rained Hallam's money around them.
Their spree started at 5:30 p.m. that day, when a man's car window was shattered by a bullet, Seals said. That witness saw Curry's Pontiac Sunfire. At 9 p.m., a man waiting for his wife to leave work at Blockbuster Video was accosted by two men, one of whom shot at him as he ran.
Around 10 p.m., a man was walking home on Plateau Drive when the defendants stopped him, forced him to the ground and tried to shoot him in the back of the head, Seals said. At the last moment, the man turned his head and the bullet went through his cheek.
Seals said ballistics were found at all four crimes, and that the evidence was linked to a 9 mm found in Curry's house.All three were arrested a few days after the slaying. All gave statements to police.
The prosecutor said defense attorneys would likely try to argue what the police should or could have done during their investigation. Officers were trying to quickly solve the case and made mistakes, he said. But, Seals added, his evidence will show that Curry, Myers and McCoy are parties to a crime.
"I expect the evidence to show that the real killers are right here in this courtroom," Seals said as he pointed to each. "One, two, three."
Defense attorneys chose to reserve giving their opening statements until later in the trial.