One of the three men accused of shooting and killing an Arnold high school student goes to trial.
Tuesday marked day one in the trial for Demarcus Giddens. He is charged with with attempted robbery and murder in the first degree with a firearm. Day one of testimony featured four eye-witnesses telling their account of what happened on August 20th, 2017, the day 16 year-old Jason Ian Price was killed.
Two of the witnesses on Tuesday were Giddens’ co-defendants, Gertavious Canada and Rodney Jones.
In both the state and defense’s openings, they did warn the jury about the legitimacy of Jones and Canada’s testimony. The two took plea deals in this case in exchange for truthful testimony.
Canada made a deal to serve only 4 years in a department of corrections facility for his role in this crime. From his testimony, Canada down plays the role he actually served. He distances himself from his co-defendants and tells his account of what happened. Through his testimony, he was able to place the gun in Giddens’ hands, but he said he ran away before the fatal shot was fired.
While he did not physically see Giddens pull the trigger but since that was the last person he saw with the weapon, he said he believes it was Giddens who shot Price.
As for Jones, his credibility may be in question with this jury after his testimony. Defense attorney, Kim Jewell, was very quick to call out the discrepancies between his testimony Tuesday and his previous depositions.
At one point, Jewell even asks Jones if he wants to tell the truth, or if he took the stand just because he wanted a deal, to which he responds that he wants to tell the truth. Jewell continued to note the changes in testimony following his statement regarding his want to be honest.
Two friends of the victim, also testified. One person who testified was 18 year-old John Pyle who was in the car with Price when they drove to the CVS in Panama City Beach. Pyle said he drove to the CVS to sell marijuana to his friends but when he arrived, he was notified that he would actually be selling to Rodney Jones.
Pyle said he was hesitant about getting out of the car at first in fear of being robbed. He said he pulled the marijuana and a scale out of his bag and Jones began weighing the weed. He said things got hostile when Giddens pulled a gun all of a sudden. Pyle identified the gun as an AK-47 assault rifle.
Pyle said Giddens yelled at him while pointing the gun and said “Do you think this is a *expletive* game? Give me your *expletive* now.” Pyle said he laid back on the ground with his marijuana behind his back.
Multiple individuals said Giddens cocked the gun while talking to Pyle. Pyle said a bullet from the gun hit him in the face when it was cocked. When Giddens cocked the gun, that’s when Canada said he ran away, not wanting to be involved. “I look back, and D is cocking the gun back and when he cocked that gun back, I took off running,” said Canada.
The gun was still pointed in his face while on the ground so Price got out of the truck and came to help his friend from being robbed.
Pyle goes onto describe the moment Price was shot. “A couple seconds after that, Ian had made it to about 5 or 6 feet from the man with the gun in my face and he turned around and fired instantly,” said Pyle. He said Giddens fired with no hesitation.
Price’s family was in attendance at Tuesday’s proceedings and got emotional as Ian’s final moments were told on the stand by two witnesses. “He grabbed his chest, and he yelled oh and he hit the ground,” said Pyle.
Jones was also there when the shot was fired. He said he wasn’t really paying attention when the altercation was occurring, but became more aware once he heard the shot.
“Next thing you know, I hear a boom and I looked up. I was looking down and I looked up and that’s when I saw the boy and he said ah you shot me. Then he fell back,” said Jones.
Jones said he then punched one of the boys, stole their watch, and ran away from the scene with Giddens not too far behind him.
Pyle said everyone left but he stayed with Price and called 911. EMS arrived on scene and questioned Pyle.
Jones said him and Giddens fled to a nearby gas station and changed their clothes. They then called Jones’ mother, who lives in Auburn, Alabama, to pick them up at the Fairfield Inn. Hours later, the men were apprehended by law enforcement and arrested.
Along with the main eye-witnesses, law enforcement officials also gave their expert testimony of the incident, including photos of the scene in court Tuesday.
It’s not normal procedure, but due to scheduling conflicts, day two of testimony will resume on Thursday, September 27th rather than Wednesday. On Thursday, the state will finish calling its witnesses and the Defense will begin to call its witnesses.
During Opening statements, Defense attorney, Kim Jewell, hinted at the possibility of Giddens taking the stand. The trial is expected to reach a verdict on Thursday.
To follow this trial live, follow our WMBB-TV Twitter page and check out #GiddensTrial.