Edwards trial kicks off in Greensboro

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

GREENSBORO-The trial of Johnny Edwards was underway as planned Tuesday after a jury was struck. Edwards has been accused of the murder of Nathaniel Jeffries and the attempted murder of Hardee Johnny Davis in November of 2003.

Both attorneys have addressed the jury in their opening arguments. Prosecuting attorney Barrown Lankster told the jury to consider the facts of the case very carefully.

“Judge the facts of this case,” Lankster said. “Once that is done we believe we will have met our burden of proof and removed all doubt.”

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Defense attorney Joel Sogol asked the jury to do the same.

“You must as a jury remain open minded,” Sogol said. “Do not make a decision until you have seen all the facts.”

Once of the first people to take the stand was Davis, who was the victim in the attempted murder charge. Davis said the incident began that night at the club when he was dancing.

“We started dancing and we (Davis and Edwards) bumped into each other,” Davis said. “Then it got physical. Things got a little rough and I pushed Johnny Edwards off and eh threw a bottle at me.”

Davis said they continued to fight until his uncle, Jeffries helped to separate them. Davis said there were no further incidents when they left the club to go to his mother’s house to clean a wound on Jeffries head.

Davis said they stayed at his mother’s house for about five to 10 minutes before leaving. He said this is when gunplay came into the disagreement.

“We ran up on Edwards and some others,” Davis said. “I said are ya’ll gonna do us like this?”

Davis said Edwards then swung the gun he was carrying at him, but missed. Afterward, Davis said Edwards shot at him.

Under cross-examination Davis story was similar. He said while at the club he had some shots and beers and the incident began after dancing. However, when he left the club Davis said he saw Edwards cousin Lamont Tinker running outside the club with a shotgun. He said he didn’t know where he was going and never asked any questions about these circumstances.

Davis said when he met Edwards and his friends they were all armed, however, Edwards was the only one he believed to have a shotgun. Davis said he was struck by two shots from Edward’s shotgun.

Sogol then produced a statement Davis had given the police a day after the incident, which conflicted much of the testimony he gave Tuesday. The statement had been signed, however, Davis said he did not remember giving the statement or the signature.

Following Davis testimony Tinker took the stand to explain why he had been seen running outside the club with a shotgun. Tinker said he had given Edwards the 12-gauge pistol grip shotgun after the scuffle inside the club. He said he took the gun from Edwards after he fired shots in the parking lot of the club.

“After he shot a couple of rounds the police came,” Tinker said. “I got the gun from Johnny and left the club. I had given it to Johnny for protection. WE always keep guns in the truck.”

Tinker said he was with Edwards group when they approached Davis and Jeffries and acknowledged they were all armed and ready for a fight.

“Our plan was to go fight and jump on Hardee,” Tinker said. “We left and headed over to Jeffries house and met him in the middle of the road.”

Tinker said Edwards got out of the car and went to the middle of the road. He said at that point Edwards began to cry for no apparent reason and said “It doesn’t have to be like this.”

Tinker said Edwards then cocked the gun back and fired the first shot, which hit Jeffries in the stomach. He said another shot was fired at the unarmed duo of Jeffries and Davis and Davis began to run as Edwards fired a .45 caliber pistol he had on his hip. He said Davis then fell and began to crawl.

As Edwards walked back to his friends Tinker said Jeffries pleaded to him.

“He said why did you shoot me?” Tinker said. “He said we could have talked this out.”

Under Sogol’s cross examination Tinker said the only reason they had weapons was they believed Davis and Jeffries would be armed as well. Tinker, who had a 9 mm at the time of the incident said he had been arrested in the incident, but never indicted? He also denied that he had struck a deal with the police to pin the incident on Edwards.

Into Tinker’s cross examination court was dismissed to discuss some of the evidence that will be brought into the trial today. Court will return to session at 9 a.m. with Tinker on the stand.