Two found guilty in Richard­son mur­der

Wil­lie ‘Scooter’ Dyer found not guilty

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Michelle Kim

Af­ter less than two hours of de­lib­er­a­tion on Fri­day, the jury de­clared two of the three de­fen­dants charged with the shoot­ing death of Ru­fus Tony Richard­son guilty of mur­der, wrap­ping up the bizarre, week-long trial.

Christo­pher “Big Boy” Rozier, 20, andXavier “Pret­ty­Boy” Dyer, 20, were found guilty of all counts against them, in­clud­ing mal­ice mur­der, felony mur­der, ag­gra­vated as­sault, sale of co­caine and pos­ses­sion of a firearm dur­ing com­mis­sion of a felony.

Wil­lie “Scooter” Dyer, 19, cousin to Xavier Dyer, was found not guilty of all counts of mal- ice mur­der, felony mur­der, and ag­gra­vated as­sault, and was to be re­leased from jail on Fri­day evening to re­turn home. “I think jus­tice was done,” said As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Me­lanie McCrorey, whose clos­ing ar­gu­ment left many wet eyes in the court­room. “The fam­ily of the vic­tim is very happy with the ver­dict.” Res­i­dent made vic­tim of meat sales­man scam

“I was elated. I was ec­static,” said Sherry Richard­son-Land, sis­ter of the vic­tim. “I mean, there are no words in the King James English lan­guage for the grat­i­tude I felt for the jus­tice be­ing done.”

Richard­son’s body was found Jan. 31, 2007 in the woods off Ste­wart Road by pass­ing all­ter­rain ve­hi­cle rid­ers. Richard­son, 55, known as a home­less lo­cal, had been shot five times — twice in the face, al­legedly on Jan. 29.

The pros­e­cu­tion pro­posed that the de­fen­dants sus­pected Richard­son was a “snitch” and at­tempted to kill him by putting rat poi­son in his crack co­caine, and when that didn’t work, took him out to the woods and shot him.

Af­ter hear­ing clos­ing state­ments Fri­day morn­ing, the 14mem­ber jury, com­posed of four men and 10 women, with two black mem­bers and the rest white, re­turned with a ver­dict in just an hour and 40 min­utes.

The air in the room was tense when the jury filed in, said Richard­son-Land. “You could hear a pin drop,” she said. The out­num­bered fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tim took up an of­fer to have court em­ploy­ees sit be­tween them and the de­fen­dant’s sup­port­ers.

As the ver­dicts were read, muf­fled cries and quiet tears erupted in the court­room. Wil­lie Dyer and his fam­ily cried at the read­ing of the ver­dict, said McCrorey.

The manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tence for mur­der is life in prison, and at least 30 years of a life sen­tence must be served be­fore pa­role can be granted. McCrorey said Rozier and Xavier Dyer face an ad­di­tional 55 years in ad­di­tion to the life sen­tence.

The pair will go be­fore Judge Ho­race John­son, Jr. on Feb. 28 for sen­tenc­ing.

“We ex­tend our con­do­lences to the de­fen­dants’ fam­ily,” said Richard­son-Land. “There are no win­ners in this sit­u­a­tion. We all lost.”

Clos­ing ar­gu­ments

In clos­ing state­ments on Fri­day morn­ing prior to the jury’s de­lib­er­a­tion, Pub­lic De­fender Teri Smith, rep­re­sent­ing Wil­lie Dyer, said at most, wit­ness tes­ti­mony placed her client in the room dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion of the rat poi­son and pulling out of the drive­way be­hind the car that al­legedly held Tony Richard­son the night of his mur­der.

“That state­ment doesn’t even tar­nish Wil­lie Dyer’s pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence,” she said. “You’ve got noth­ing. Ab­so­lutely noth­ing.”

At­tor­ney An­dre Sail­ers, rep­re­sent­ing Chris Rozier, said the state’s case against his client was “full of holes” and painted a pic­ture of phys­i­cal ev­i­dence planted ei­ther by law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors or Lib­erty Har­ris, an­other de­fen­dant charged with the mur­der who re­ceived im­mu­nity to tes­tify in this trial.

He said the pres­ence of gun pow­der residue on the vic­tim’s hands would have placed the mur­der time af­ter the al­leged Jan. 29 date, cit­ing an ex­pert’s tes­ti­mony that the residue usu­ally de­te­ri­o­rates af­ter about six hours.

“They’re mak­ing this stuff up, ladies and gen­tle­men,” he said “Don’t let them get away with this.”

Xavier Dyer’s at­tor­ney, Lee Sex­ton, pointed out to the jury that the key wit­nesses tes­ti­fy­ing against his client had been im­peached by giv­ing con­flict­ing state­ments on the stand.

“If you dis­re­gard their tes­ti­mony, you end up with a hat,” he said, re­fer­ring to the red and black “Peach State Auto Auc­tion” cap found in the trash can of Xavier Dyer’s home. Har­ris and wit­ness Ken­drick Eubanks had iden­ti­fied the hat as Richard­son’s. Xavier Dyer’s fa­ther claimed it as his. The hat was not tested for DNA ev­i­dence, al­though the test had been re­quested by the New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

“Your duty is to ac­quit if there is one rea­son­able doubt,” Sex­ton re­minded the jury.

In her clos­ing state­ment for the pros­e­cu­tion, McCrorey ac­knowl­edged most of the wit­nesses were not “an­gels.”

“That’s not who th­ese gen­tle­men hung out with. They hung out with crack heads. So that’s what you’ve got,” she said.

She asked the jury to look at the con­sis­tent parts of the tes­ti­monies that were backed up by phys­i­cal ev­i­dence. She also de­nounced the con­spir­acy the­ory ac­cus­ing law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors of plant­ing ev­i­dence as il­log­i­cal and of­fen­sive, ask­ing why wasn’t a mur­der weapon planted as well if the ev­i­dence was planted.

“They are go­ing to throw away 122 years of (com­bined) law en­force­ment train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence for this?” she ex­claimed. “Come on! It’s of­fen­sive!”

But ul­ti­mately, she said, “This case is not about plant­ing ev­i­dence. This case is not about crack heads. This case is about Tony Richard­son. He was alive and he was hu­man be­ing.”

She ended with a spec­u­la­tion of the last mo­ments of Richard­son’s life.

“They gave this man rat poi­son and he didn’t die. Well, now it’s started, it’s got to be fin­ished. They take him on that dirt road. They point their gun at him. They say ‘Get out.’ They treat him like tar­get prac­tice. They shoot him in the but­tocks. They shoot him in both arms. He’s got mud on his hands. He’s on his knees. They showed him no mercy. Be­cause he’s noth­ing more than a crack head who crossed them.

They shoot him in the neck. In his jaw. In his brain. They leave him in the bushes. That’s what they thought of Tony Richard- son. That’s the good guys they are.”

By the time she fin­ished, only quiet snif­fles broke the si­lence of the court­room.

Ru­fus Tony Richard­son

Tony Richard­son grew up in El­len­wood as the youngest boy in fam­ily of 12 boys and three girls, raised by a sin­gle mother.

His sis­ter, Sherry Richar­son­Land, de­scribed him as a good brother with a bright fu­ture. She said he used to cut grass to earn money to bring home to their mother when he was 11. To help feed the fam­ily, he would fol­low the gro­cery store truck and re­trieve ex­pired pas­tries dis­posed in the dump and would bring food from his restau­rant and ho­tel jobs.

In high school, he was cap­tain of the ROTC with medals so shiny, his sis­ters would use them as mir­rors to check their hair.

One night, dur­ing a ROTC march at a sta­dium, there was a shoot­ing and pel­lets hit his right hand as he ran, per­ma­nently in­jur­ing the lig­a­ments.

“He was de­stroyed when that hap­pened,” she said. “All his dreams of be­ing in the mil­i­tary was gone. He had his eye set on serv­ing our coun­try.”

She said their fam­ily held no mal­ice against Rozier, Xavier Dyer and Wil­lie Dyer.

“I think they could have done some­thing a lot bet­ter with their lives,” she said. “You can tell they haven’t been ne­glected, there­fore, you can’t blame the par­ents. It was their de­ci­sion. One minute of mak­ing the wrong de­ci­sion has changed the rest of their life.”

Of the “not guilty” ver­dict for Wil­lie Dyer, she said she felt it was fair.

“I just hope he takes this op­por­tu­nity to turn his life around,” she said, “and the young peo­ple he come in con­tact with, try to share his life ex­pe­ri­ence so they can go down a dif­fer­ent path.”

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