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Testimony continues in slaying case

COVINGTON - Testimony continued for a second day on Wednesday in Newton County Superior Court in the trial of three men who stand accused in the slaying of Rufus Tony Richardson.

The defendants, Christopher Jarrell Rozier, 20, Xavier Damone Dyer, 19, and his cousin, Willie Dyer, 19, are each facing charges of murder and aggravated assault in connection with Richardson's death.

The body of Richardson, 55, was found on the side of a dirt road near Ga. Highway 162 last January. He had been shot six times, including twice in the face.

On the second day of testimony, the court first heard from Kendrick Eubanks, who as Erica Brookin had on Tuesday, said that he was threatened by Rozier, also known as "Big Boy," and Xavier Dyer, also known as "Pretty Boy," on the same dirt road where the victim's body was found, telling them, "Y'all know what it is when you cross us." He claimed that the two defendants were holding guns at the time.

Eubanks also testified that a hat shown to him by Assistant District Attorney Melanie McCrorey appeared to be like one worn by Richardson. The hat was seized by investigators during the execution of a search warrant at Xavier Dyer's residence shortly after the slaying took place.

During cross-examination, Eubanks admitted that he told authorities that Richardson didn't wear a hat. He also stated that neither of the defendants pointed the guns at him or Brookin when they were allegedly threatened and that the two frequently joked around.

The majority of the day's remaining testimony centered around the case's investigators and the analysis of evidence at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.

Both Capt. Doug Kitchens and Investigator Sharron Stewart of the Newton County Sheriff's Office testified that they found four shell casings in the backyard of Rozier's residence following an execution of a search warrant at the property.

Both also said they discovered a barbecue grill and two aluminum cans in the yard which they said appeared to have been shot with a firearm.

Bernadette Davy, a firearms examiner with the state lab, would later testify that eight 9 mm shell casings, six of which were found at the crime scene and two of which were found in the yard at Rozier's residence, were fired from the same firearm.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Brian Johnston, who interviewed Willie Dyer, Christopher Rozier and Liberty Harris, 38, an alleged co-conspirator in the case, also testified on Wednesday.

Harris' testimony, which was heard on Tuesday, was granted immunity by Judge Horace Johnson Jr. in the case, meaning that what she testified to against the three defendants could not be used against her at her own trial. She still stands charged with murder and aggravated assault in connection with Richardson's death.

Johnston said that during his interview with Harris, she stated that there was a rumor that Richardson was a confidential informant and that Rozier and Xavier Dyer wanted to kill him, at which point she made the statement, "Y'all know what he likes to do." According to Johnston's testimony, she then said that Xavier Dyer went to get some rat poison.

Larry Peterson, a micro analyst with the state crime lab, testified that the consistency of burnt d-CON, a rat poison, matched residue found inside a crack pipe that was found on Richardson's person.

Johnston also testified that when he interviewed Rozier, that he stated he didn't own any guns and that there was no reason for his prints to be found on a gun.

Albert Roland, a GBI fingerprint examiner, testified, however, that two fingerprints taken from the stock of a sawed off shotgun found in the residence of Liberty Harris during a search warrant matched those of Rozier.

Johnston said during cross-examination that Rozier denied knowing anything about Richardson's death.

Johnston also testified that in his interview with Willie Dyer, that he acknowledged being present in a room when Harris, Rozier and Xavier Dyer were having a "private" conversation. Willie Dyer never said, however, that he knew what the conversation was about.

Johnston also stated that Harris never implicated Willie Dyer in the death of Richardson in her interview with investigators.

The state is expected to wrap up its side of the case today with the testimony of Lt. Bill Watterson, the case's lead investigator, at which point attorneys for the defendants will make their case to the jury.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com