Trial for 2017 second-degree murder case begins

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. — The jury trial for Adeviante ‘Turk’ Russ started on Wednesday morning inside the Bay County Courthouse.  Russ is accused of shooting and killing Gerald Smith in 2017. 

When the incident took place on April 21, 2017, Russ was only 17 years old but the court decided he will be tried as an adult.

Police say the shooting took place at the Macedonia Garden Apartments located on West 17th Street in Panama City in the breezeway of building ‘E’. 

In court Wednesday, the jury learned the details of the case and also how law enforcement determined Russ as the suspect. 

The jury heard from multiple witnesses, all who knew both the defendant and the victim for many years.

One of those witnesses was Ieshia Ellis, who says she was standing just feet away from Smith when the shooting happened.

“I started screaming for help, and I was screaming like ‘why Turk why?’ Screaming ‘why?!’,” said Ellis as she described her initial reaction to the shooting. 

The defense argued Russ was acting in self- defense on that day and that Smith was reaching for a gun before shots were fired.

The witnesses say they remember it differently. “As soon as he (Russ) pulled it out, he just started to shoot,” said Ellis. 

Another witness, Keyasha Fisher said, “Turk, which is Russ, walked up behind the ‘D’ building, stood there, asked him “what’s that you did to my homeboy?’ and before Smith could even say anything, he shot a gun.”

The state also called multiple law enforcement agencies to the stand who talked through the initial response to the call and how the case was managed after that. 

The corporal who was first on scene says Smith was conscious when he got there but Smith would not reveal the person who shot him. “I asked him several times if he knew he did it, he kept telling me no, I finally leaned over and asked him if he was willing to take it to his grave and he didn’t say anything,” said Corporal Darby Gay of the Panama City Police Department. 

The case agent, Corporal Jordan Hoffman of Panama City Police says they did have a second suspect in question at the beginning of the investigation but through surveillance video and alibis, that person was ruled out as the shooter. 

The trial will continue Thursday morning.

Russ is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm. 

The state is seeking a life sentence in this case.

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