Four high school friends, two homicides, three suspects on trial.
That’s the situation a witness described Thursday in the trial of three alleged gang associates charged in the March 26, 2016, fatal shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Meredith at Peachtree Mall in Columbus.
The defendants are Xzavaien Trevon Jones, 19; his sister, Tekoa Chantrell Young, 24; and Terell Raquez McFarland, 26.
Among the witnesses testifying Thursday was Shanna Douglas, Meredith’s girlfriend and the mother of his child, who said she started dating him while both were attending Hardaway High School.
That’s also where she became “best friends” with Young, and met Young’s boyfriend Christopher Twitty, she said. Jones was too young for high school then, but she got to know him while spending time with Young, she said.
But these friendships later became strained when Meredith and Twitty started dealing drugs, as Meredith gave Twitty some marijuana to sell, and Twitty never paid him for it, she said.
Twitty, 23, fatally was shot Nov. 21, 2015, in his home on Columbus’ Wickham Drive.
Police have said Twitty was in the Crips street gang, and so are Jones, Young and McFarland, who blamed Meredith for Twitty’s homicide.
Douglas testified that she called to comfort Young after Twitty’s death, and told her Meredith had nothing to do with it. “She said she wasn’t going to be the only one crying,” Douglas said.
She said Young called her about a month after Meredith was gunned down at the 3131 Manchester Expressway mall. Douglas said she told Young that Twitty should not have taken Meredith’s marijuana. “He didn’t have to shoot up our home,” Young said of Meredith, she testified.
She said Young told her those involved in the dispute were going to “keep it in the streets.”
Shown mall security footage, she identified Young and Jones as two people cameras recorded in the parking lot that day.
Sgt. David Jury, a crime scene technician, testified he found 10 bullet casings where Meredith was shot. Among the photographs displayed during his testimony were some of Meredith’s bullet-riddled body. Authorities said his body had 10 bullet holes, but investigators were unsure whether each was a single gunshot wound, as some could have been exit wounds.
Police said Young acted as a scout who trailed Meredith through the mall before contacting Jones and McFarland, who met her there before Jones gunned down Meredith outside the food court at 7:28 p.m. the Saturday before Easter. Meredith, 24, was pronounced dead at 8:05 p.m. at the Midtown Medical Center.
Surveillance video showed Young arriving at the mall about 7:15 p.m. and pacing back and forth as she spied on Meredith before meeting Jones and McFarland, investigators said.
Each of the three defendants is charged with murder, aggravated assault and violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Also testifying Thursday was a Muscogee County Jail corrections officer, who said the county currently has about 400 gang members incarcerated, and officers have found evidence indicating both Jones and McFarland are in the Crips gang.
The trial resumes Friday in Judge Frank Jordan Jr.’s Government Center courtroom.