The jury trial for Zakkawanda “Face” Moss, a Hazel Green, Ala., man accused of killing six people here in Lincoln County in October 2012, began Tuesday with opening statements from state prosecutor District Attorney General Robert Carter and defense attorney Herschel Koger.
Circuit Court Judge Forest Durard, who sequestered the 16-member jury as the trial got underway, began with opening instructions, describing for the jury the indictment and the charges of premeditated murder. He also emphasized that jurors aren’t to view media coverage or talk about the trial to others until after the verdict.
Moss’ attorney had filed a motion for a change of venue, citing media coverage, but that motion had been denied. Expectations are for presentments to continue throughout this week before both the state and defense rest their cases.
Also charged in connection with the murders is Henry Lee Burrell, 36, of Fayetteville. Both Burrell and Moss have pleaded not guilty. Burrell’s trial is tentatively set for Feb. 6-26 in Lincoln County Circuit Court.
As the trial got underway Tuesday, Carter read indictments charging Moss with the intentional and pre-meditated murder of six victims, one of which was an unborn child. The victims, he recounted, were Amber McCaulley, 21; Chabreya Rael Campbell, 22, who was seven months pregnant with a baby girl; Chabreya’s son, Rashad O’Brien (Baby Rico) Ragland, 16 months of age; Jessica Lee Brown, 21; and Warren Vincent Crutcher, 24.
“The defendant [Moss] tortured and murdered these six individuals in an attempt to coerce the women and Warren Crutcher into telling where the drugs, the money and guns were located,” said Carter in his opening statement.
Moss and Burrell had worked for Crutcher in the drug business, and then, seeing how much money Crutcher made and knowing he was planning to get out of the business, they decided to rob him, said the district attorney general, going on to add that evidence would prove Moss’ responsibility in the murders.
Carter urged the jury to consider carefully witnesses’ testimonies, as well as direct and circumstantial evidence presented, and urged them to use common sense as well when determining the verdict.
There were three crime scenes, he said, citing one at the 3264 Huntsville Highway home at of Chabreya Campbell. The second scene was at 4 Foxwood Drive where Jessica Brown lived with her son Jaylen, he continued, and the third was in a brushy area along B.H. Reece Road in rural Madison County, Ala., not far from the Tennessee state line. Both Alabama and Tennessee law enforcement were involved in the investigations, as well as the TBI, and medical and forensic examiners.
Carter vividly described the victims, how they were murdered and the three locations where their bodies were found.
“The state has a substantial amount of evidence,” said Carter. “The state will call several witnesses … each witness has another piece of evidence … We have witnesses all along the time line.”
Carter stated that Amber McCaulley died as a result of a gunshot to the right side of the head. She was murdered in a white Hyundai Elantra rental car. Her body was taken to the garage of the Huntsville Highway house and tossed in a closet, and there, she was left to die. She had just recently begun seeing Crutcher, he said. “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time … She was in the way, so he [Moss] killed her.”
Chabreya Campbell was the second victim, said Carter, and her unborn baby girl, with whom she was seven months pregnant, was the third. Chabreya, he said, was strangled with her hands tied behind her back. She was then put in a bathtub to die. The unborn baby was Warren Crutcher’s child and died with her mother, he continued. Chabreya lived at the 3264 Huntsville Highway home with her 16-month-old son, Rashad “Baby Rico” O’Brien Ragland, as well as another son, Vinnie, said the district attorney, noting that Crutcher was Vinnie’s father. Carter went on to say that Moss tortured Rico, stomping him multiple times until he was dead.
Jessica Brown, 21, lived at 4 Foxwood Drive in Park City, with her seven-month-old son, Jaylen. Crutcher was also Jaylen’s father. Jessica’s hands were tied behind her back, and she died from multiple ligatures to her neck, said the district attorney general, noting that she, too, was placed in the bathtub. “She fought with him to protect her baby,” he said, adding that Brown’s house was ransacked as Moss looked for drugs, money and guns. The air conditioner, stove and refrigerator were torn apart, he added.
Warren Crutcher, 24, was shot three times in the back of the head. “… The proof will show he was murdered in Tennessee … he was not left at the houses,” Carter said, explaining Crutcher had children with both Campbell and Brown and stayed with both women at various times.
“Why was his body treated differently?” asked Carter. “The evidence will show that Moss did this to show that Warren was involved … The mistake Moss made was that Huntsville utility workers happened to find Warren’s body.”
Carter described the pieces of evidence gathered, testimonies that would be presented, and how prosecutors believe the murders took place. He said Moss and Burrell knew that Crutcher had various locations where he hid drugs, money and weapons. They didn’t like that Warren made more money then they did, he continued, and they knew Crutcher was getting out of the business and planned to rob him and murder him.
Moss’ defense attorney Koger addressed the jury only briefly, reminding jurors that Moss had pled not guilty and that nothing they had heard from the state was evidence or proof of anything, that they should discern the difference between what is proof and what is speculation.
“I think you will see these are people dealing with drugs,” he said, adding that proof has to be if a person is knowingly and intentionally committing a crime, not just associating with a person.
Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder was the first person to testify. The sheriff described how he was dispatched mid-morning on Oct. 21, 2012, to the first crime scene at the Huntsville Highway house where Chabreya Campbell, her unborn baby and son were murdered. When he arrived Chief Deputy Bill Reavis, Deputy Wayne Graham, Investigator James Owen, Deputy David Miller and others were on the scene, he said, adding that they informed him that there were three bodies in the house. The sheriff noted that family and friends had lifted the garage rollup door slightly to let Vinnie Crutcher, Chabreya’s toddler, out of the garage and had taken him across the street.
The sheriff described walking through the house and seeing “Baby Rico” lying dead on the living room floor. His mother was discovered face down in the bathtub, said Blackwelder, and the body of Amber McCaulley found in a closet in the garage where a sheet of plywood had been leaned up against the opening of the door. Blackwelder said he contacted Carter, who called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Moss remained expressionless throughout the morning testimonies.
Early that afternoon, the sheriff stated, while he was at the Huntsville Highway house, Capt. Joyce McConnell called to alert him that possibly another body would be found on Foxwood Drive. A SWAT team was called in to clear the house first, the sheriff continued, noting that Vickie Afisov, mother of Jessica Brown and a corrections officer with the sheriff’s department, and other family members were waiting outside the home. Jessica Brown was found dead in the bathtub, and her seven-week-old baby, Jessica and Warren’s child, was found alive in another bathroom at the back of the house. The sheriff said the baby was alive but had suffered setbacks lying on the floor. The house had been ransacked.
LCSD Deputy Wayne Graham testified next. He was dispatched to the Huntsville Highway house to do a welfare check. A child had called his babysitter from a cell phone, saying he couldn’t wake up his mother. Graham stated that two women pulled up into the driveway behind him and one woman stated that they got the child out by rolling the garage door up a few feet. Graham observed a pit bull tied in the back yard. When he opened the garage door, he stated that it “looked like something had been dragged around” in the garage. At first he thought they had been fighting dogs, he said, then he found the female behind the plywood. He secured the house and contacted investigators.
Defense attorney Koger did not ask any questions.
The third witness was Robert Rowe. In October 2012 he was LCSD jail administrator, but he has since retired. Vickie Afisov contacted him late afternoon on Oct. 21, he said, adding that she was at 4 Foxwood Drive and concerned about her daughter, Jessica Brown, because she hadn’t been able to contact her and there was no answer at the door. Rowe said he looked through the windows and door windows and stated that the “house was in disarray”. Deputies arrived on the scene, and Rowe said he tried to console Vickie and remained outside the house with her and her husband, Kostyantyn. The defense attorney had no questions for the witness.
LCSD Mike Claiborne testified next. Claiborne, now an investigator, along with Investigator Doug Boeringer, Deputy Eric Hose, Sgt. Terry Quick and Deputy Jeremy Thompson, all members of the county’s SWAT team, cleared the house, to make sure it was safe to enter.
He said the bedroom appeared ransacked, and he saw a body in the bathtub. Claiborne found the baby in the back bathroom lying behind the door. “I didn’t observe guns, money or drugs,” Claiborne said, adding that a TBI agent took over the investigation next. Later Claiborne, along with several reserve officers, were asked to search an area on Joe Quick Road, along with Madison County Sheriff’s Reserve deputies.
In his cross examination, Koger asked Claiborne how the child’s head was positioned behind the door in the bathroom and whether it was a towel or pallet and if the child was wrapped up. Claiborne stated that the child’s head was in an arc behind the door and was not wrapped up to his recollection.
Huntsville utilities worker Kelly McNabb was the fifth witness. As a line clearance coordinator, he and a co-worker were on B.H. Reeves Road early morning on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 marking brush and trees in a rural area when McNabb found the wallet and body of Warren Crutcher. B.H. Reeves Road is close to the Tennessee state line, about two miles from Borderline Road.
“What I saw was enough to call law enforcement,” said McNabb. “He looked violent — I was about 20-feet away,” he said, adding that the. Madison County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene.
The next witness was Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy David Stamm, who had responded to the sparsely populated area of B.H. Reeves Road, saw the body and observed a brown leather wallet near the body with money in it. Stamm said he roped off the scene, called his supervisor and took statements from the utility workers. Crime Scene Investigators Joe Washington, Jason McMinn and Donnie Monroe arrived next.
Patricia Strickland, the mother of Amber McCaulley, was the seventh witness to testify. She stated that she had a very close relationship with her daughter. Amber went to school for nursing, worked at Toyota and at a nursing home in Huntsville, she said. Describing Amber, she said she had lots of friends, loved her family, and daughter, and that she was a praise dancer at church.
On Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, Amber was with her mother and father at her sister’s house for dinner. Warren Crutcher picked her up at the house later that evening, she recalled. That night Strickland took care of Amber’s 15-month-old daughter, Kensley. The last time she had contact with Amber was when she sent her a text message. “I asked her when she was coming home to get Kensley,” said Strickland, going on to explained that the morning of Oct. 22 she learned of Amber’s relationship with Crutcher and they were at his mother’s house.
Shenia Michelle Sells, mother of Chebreya Campbell and grandmother of Vinnie Crutcher and Rashad “Baby Rico” Ragland, testified next. She explained that Chabreya had lived at the Huntsville Highway house for four or five months. Sells last talked to her daughter on Sunday, Oct. 21, around 11 a.m. Chabreya was with Crutcher in Ardmore at Dog Days. “She said she would call back later,” Sells said. The children were with the baby sitter, Asia Towles. “She never called back.”
The next morning before 10 a.m. Vincent called saying, “Nay Nay wasn’t saying anything.” Sells went to Chabreya’s house and saw yellow tape around the house. She was told to go across the street where someone was holding little Vinnie and she was told Chabreya was in the house.
Sgt. Vickie Afisov, ex-wife of Troy Brown, and mother of Jessica Brown, testified next. She explained that Jessica and Warren had known each other since December 2011 and that Crutcher had lived in the house for eight to 10 months. Jessica had one child, Jayden Warren Crutcher. Jessica was aware of the Huntsville Highway house where Warren Crutcher stayed some of the time and pointed out the house to Vickie several months before, she said, explaining that Jessica kept the house clean and neat.
She noted that she asked Jessica about an overnight bag in the living room next to the front door. “Warren told her to be ready to go,” she said. On Monday, Oct. 22, Vickie went to Jessica’s house because she couldn’t get in touch with her. “The house was destroyed,” she said. Jessica’s father, Troy, was there waiting for officers, along with some of Jessica’s friends.
Sue Rozar was the 10th witness to testify. She is the mother of Vickie Afisov, grandmother of Jessica and great-grandmother of Jayden. Rozar was close to her granddaughter and kept Jayden at Jessica’s house a few times each week while Jessica worked or ran errands.
“I was not allowed in Warren’s room,” she said. Rozar also asked about the overnight bag near the door. “Jessica said if Warren calls me and tells me to leave, I’ve got to leave.” Jessica told her grandmother that she was having a friend over on Sunday night. Rozar spoke to her hours before the murder — “She called me from the house. She was having a friend over … We were going to meet the next day — but she never called.”
Koger had no questions for Rozar.
Late Tuesday afternoon Durard excused the jury from the courtroom. Assistant District Attorney Ann Filer told the judge that there were some things at issue regarding some proposed testimonies.
A protected witness was the first to give testimony. He was with Crutcher’s drug organization before Henry Burrell joined it. When the witness went to prison, Burrell filled his position. Crutcher, Moss and Burrell had become acquainted in prison in previous years.
The witness explained several slang terms used in the drug trade. The judge stated that the drug operation was a side issue.
For the defense, Koger said that some of what the witness would be talking about is hearsay regarding Moss, adding that he didn’t want terms that might be used to be considered as casting any unnecessary dispersion on his client.
The witness was called to the stand and explained that he met Crutcher in 2011 when Crutcher got out of jail. The men went into the drug business together, selling crack, cocaine, pills and anything else that was profitable. The witness and Crutcher shared the house on Huntsville Highway until late 2011, when they moved out, and Crutcher rented it to someone else.
Next the district attorney asked for pre-testimony from Warren Crutcher’s mom, Rhoda Crutcher, and her fiancé, Earl Robinson. They both said that Warren and Amber McCauley were at her apartment late Sunday evening Oct. 21, 2012, and that Warren received a phone call at that time.
Wednesday morning testimony opened with the 11th witness, Deanna McCray of Huntsville, Ala. She knew Amber McCaully for approximately 15 years, since elementary school and was still close to her.
“I spoke to her at 9 p.m. (Oct. 21), and she was at Warren’s mom’s house,” she said. “…10:30 p.m. was the last conversation with Amber,” McCray said, adding that she didn’t know Chebraya or Jessica Brown, and never spent time with Lusonia Moss, Face’s wife.
A protected witness took the stand and explained that he met Warren Crutcher in 2000 when he moved to Madison County where Crutcher was living at that time. The two men reconnected after Crutcher got out of jail in early 2011 and became best friends. The witness stated that Crutcher was the lead man and ran the drug trade like a regular business. Crutcher and the witness, he testified, had the biggest clientele and went from street level sales to selling drugs to dealers.
Warren bought the Huntsville Highway house where the men would cut cocaine with baking soda and cook crack, he testified, adding they would also divide drugs and put them into baggies. There was one room there, the witness testified, that only he and Crutcher were allowed to enter. Drugs were hidden at the witness’s house or the Huntsville Highway or Foxwood house, he said. “People didn’t know where me and Warren lived — except Henry [Burrell].” The witness said he and Crutcher had plans to move to another state to get away from Huntsville … “then start a legitimate business”. The witness continued, “Henry was not included in the plan.”
The witness said he and Crutcher maintained contact while the witness was in jail with a phone card that Crutcher bought for him. On Sunday, Oct. 21, the witness talked to Crutcher from jail. The witness’s voice cracked: “He was at the Huntsville Highway house.” Crutcher had purchased exercise equipment for a pit bull, he said, adding as he spoke to Crutcher, he recognized Burrell’s voice in the background. “There were a couple of people there,” the witness said. During his testimony the witness also noted that Crutcher kept a gun with him at all times and kept guns at both houses. Filer asked the witness to look at a 9mm Glock handgun, which the witness then identified as Crutcher’s gun.
The witness was also shown two more AK47 guns, which he also identified as Crutcher’s guns that he kept at the houses.
On cross, the defense attorney asked the witness if he had ever seen another Glock 9mm other than Warren’s gun. The witness stated that he had seen some on the Internet. “Is there anything that stands out?” Koger said, asking if there are any special features on the gun or if it is personalized. The witness stated that it had an extended clip it and that it had glow-in-the-dark beams on it.
Koger went on to ask about another gun, a semi-automatic pistol. Crutcher had given one to Burrell, and the witness had handled it before. “Any personalized marks?” Koger asked. The witness said it was not a new gun, and on the top of the barrel there were some little scratches.
Koger continued to ask the witness about the AK47’s and if there is anything special about those guns, to which the witness responded that one of the AK47s was in better condition than the other, was lighter in color, and one gun had been dropped and had a mark on the bottom rubber grip on the end of the stock.
Following a short break Rhoda Batina Crutcher, Warren’s mother, was asked to testify Wednesday morning. Rhoda said she knew her son sold drugs but that she didn’t approve. She never met Moss, she said, but had met Burrell. “When he [Burrell] got out of jail, Warren picked him up.”
On Sunday evening, Oct. 21, Rhoda said she and her fiancé Earl Robinson met Amber McCaulley for the first time when she and Warren came to the house. Warren received a call while at his mother’s apartment, and Rhoda testified that she heard Burrell’s voice on the phone. The jury was dismissed when Rhoda began to discuss the conversation she overheard while standing next to her son.
Once the jury came back, Rhoda continued. “I told him ‘baby don’t go’ and Warren left with Amber with him,” she said. That Sunday night was the last time Rhoda saw her son alive, she said. The next day she saw the Huntsville Highway house on the news. She kept trying to call her son on the phone, but there was no answer, she testified.
Earl Robinson testified that he also had met Burrell but never met Moss. He was at his computer, he testified, saying he also heard Burrell’s voice on Warren Crutcher’s phone. “He [Warren] walked into the kitchen, still talking, and told Amber, ‘let’s go’,” Robinson testified.
The defense called Rhoda Crutcher back to the stand, asking whether she knew Asia Towles. She replied yes and that she would see Asia with her grandchildren. He also asked how many times she had been face to face with Burrell. “About four times,” Rhoda said, noting that she met him years before when she lived next door to his sister.
Amanda Whaless was the next witness Wednesday. She works for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and in October 2012 was working at the University Drive location in Huntsville. She recalled a transaction she had with Jessica Brown when she made reservations for her to rent a car. According to her testimony, Brown rented a white Elantra in Crutcher’s name. When Brown went to pick up the car, Whaless noticed she was accompanied by an African American man, who was sitting in the passenger seat.
Following the lunch break, Assistant District Attorney Filer called Asia Towles to the stand. She testified that she had known Campbell for a few years, that she had baby-sit for her a great deal and that she knew Moss and Burrell through Crutcher. Campbell’s son, three-year-old Vinnie, had called her twice that morning, saying he couldn’t get his mother or Rico to wake up. Towles and her cousin then drove to the home, she said.
“We went to the front door and could hear Vincent [Vinnie], but we couldn’t get the door open,” she said, explaining that she called authorities and was then able to coach the three-year-old to unlock the garage door. “We raised it up … and there was blood all over the garage floor.”
Towles also testified to occasions when she saw money, guns and drugs in the home, and witnessed Crutcher re-bagging marijuana as well as giving Moss and Burrell money. She also identified a photo depicting Vincent holding a roll of money. Also under questioning, she said that Campbell was visibly pregnant at the time the murders took place.
Under cross examination, Koger asked about guns in the home, the types of drugs she witnessed and whether she knew Brown, to which she responded yes.
The next witness to take the stand was a protected witness, one whose identity the judge wished not to be released. The woman, Burrell’s girlfriend at the time, testified that to the best of her knowledge, Burrell came to know Crutcher when they served time together and after their release, they sold drugs together. In an aside, without the jury present, she answered questions about a phone call she heard between Burrell and who she thought was Moss – “He [Burrell] was planning to rob Teenager,” she said, crying, referring to Crutcher, who had the nickname Teenager. “I said leave the boy alone, and he had an evil laugh.”
With the defense objecting to portions of the information pertaining to the call, the witness said Burrell wanted her to drive him to the Fayetteville McDonald’s where they were to meet and pick up Moss. She later, with the jury present, identified Moss as the man she had picked up.
She also went on to testify that in the early morning hours after the murders, she had driven Burrell and Moss back to Fayetteville from Huntsville. In the course of that, she testified that she had crossed a bridge in Alabama where the two men threw from the vehicle’s windows objects into the water below, objects she believed to be guns and perhaps cell phones.
On day three of the trial, Assistant District Attorney Holly Eubanks called the first witness for the state, Janet Lauderdale, an asset protection manager for the Huntsville Walmart on Sparkman Drive. Noting that the store has 320 cameras inside as well as cameras on the parking lot, Lauderdale verified the accuracy of time stamps on video clips, which were also shown to the jury. The video showed a man, identified as Moss, entering the store at approximately 2:37 a.m. that morning and attempting to use an ATM there.
The next witness was Ciabosh Nika, whose brother-in-law owns the Wavaho station at Winchester Road in Huntsville. He also testified as to the authenticity and time stamps of video clips from that store at 2:58 a.m. that morning. The state use of the video was intended to show Moss and then the woman attempting to use that ATM.
According to testimony, the state contends that the defendant was attempting to use Crutcher’s credit card to get cash at the ATM’s.
There was also testimony from Senderella Moore, an operations clerk for a solid waste company that picked up garbage from a Huntsville apartment complex dumpster. It is there that authorities believe the suspects disposed of blood-covered clothing.
Also called to the stand was Woody Wilson, facility manager for the Huntsville solid waste management company Covanta, which incinerates waste, converting it into steam. The plant burns 600 tons of waste each day, Wilson testified.
Next to be called was Investigator Doug Boeringer with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, who testified to his work the day the murder victims’ bodies were discovered at the two Tennessee residences. Boeringer went on to testify that he went to a Sunset Drive residence in Fayetteville where he arrested Burrell on a warrant and conducted a search.
“We were looking for anything associated with the murders,” he said, adding that they found an unloaded pistol magazine. The magazine, entered into evidence, was a for a 9mm handgun. The investigator went on to say that he was shown seat covers and floor mats that had been discarded in a garbage can at the home. The covers and mats were collected for evidence after the investigator learned that a car containing blood evidence had been discovered.
The protected witness who had testified earlier had agreed during an interview with Boeringer to take authorities on the route she had driven with Moss and Burrell the night after the murders. Jurors were handed color-coded maps depicting that route.
On cross, Koger asked Boeringer if they went to the Huntsville Highway house first, to which the investigator responded yes. The defense attorney also asked about the distance between the Huntsville Highway house, the Foxwood house and the distance to the Alabama line. “With regard to Warren Crutcher’s body — just because his body was found there, doesn’t mean he was murdered there, right?” Koger asked. “Right,” Boeringer replied.
Eubanks then called Matt Cullison to the stand. He works with Securus Technologies, a communications firm for corrections facilities. He verified that Crutcher’s name was on an account and that the last call from the Madison County Jail was placed by a protected witness to Crutcher on Oct. 21, 2012 at 16:02. On cross, Koger asked if calls are initiated behind locked doors and if Securus records the phone calls, to which Cullison replied, “Yes.”
Gary Stevenson, owner of an auto repair business on Winchester Road, New Market, was next to be called to the stand. On Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 as he was taking his son to school when he noticed a gun clip on the east side of the bridge that crosses the Flint River. When traffic died down, he testified that he went back to the bridge with an employee and had him put on a rubber glove to retrieve the clip. They took it back to the business and called the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He gave it to Deputy Roth. “I was careful not to touch it … it had silver hollow point bullets in it,” Stevenson said.
On cross, Koger showed the clip to Stevenson, stating, “It’s pretty non-descript.” But Stevenson added, “But the bullets are silver with hollow point tips.”
Next to give testimony was Deputy Peter Roth with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He picked up the gun clip from Stevenson’s business, put it in a manila envelope and had looked at it briefly. “I wrote a property report and turned it into Deputy Investigator Monroe,” said Roth.
After a late afternoon break, the state called Sgt. Ralph Harris to the witness stand. A retired military officer, Harris is with the Madison County Sheriff’s Reserve. Harris put a team of reserve officers together and went to Joe Quick Road. “About seven men searched for anything out of the normal,” he said. After searching, they found a cell phone. Later they found a small white hand towel and a few minutes later a gun.
“The gun and towel were about 15-feet off the road traveling east,” he said. Deputy Mike Claiborne led the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Posse, which searched from the other direction.
The next witness was called about 4:45 p.m., Deputy Steven Morgan with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He was the deputy that located the Glock 17 9mm handgun while probing the leaves with a stick in the area of the search. He identified photos of the gun and area it was found in as well as the towel saying, “it is in similar condition to what was found that day.”
Sgt. Tommy (T.A.) Miller of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Division stepped up to the witness stand next. Moss began to bite his lower lip. Sgt. Miller went to the Sparkman Drive apartment complex where the white Hyundai Elantra was found on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, about 2 p.m. in the area of building 44. He identified a photo of the vehicle they found, describing areas of the vehicle that were stained.
“Just below the door of the rocker panel there is a reddish brown stain that appears to be blood,” he testified, noting what also appeared to be bloodstains on the backside of the vehicle. Sgt. Miller and Investigator Hose called for Crime Scene Investigator Donny Monroe and while they waited for him they, “talked to everyone in the complex to see if they witnessed anything.” Looking into the vehicle without opening the door, Miller said, “Inside the front passenger seat there were the same type of stains and the dash on the passenger side.”
While on the scene they requested that Mahal Wrecker services tow both the vehicle and have another tow truck impound the dumpster in the MCSD crime scene bay.
Koger had no questions for the defense.
Daniel R. Delakowsi stepped up to the witness stand. He is a tow truck driver for Mayhal wrecker service and does impounds for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. “I positioned the tow truck and hooked to it (Elantra) without touching it and loaded it on the wrecker and took it to the crime lab,” he said. The dumpster was carried off by a co-worker, he added, and they were both escorted by patrol cars.
Friday morning Nov. 15 the first witness was Special Agent Brad Elliott, a criminal investigator with the TBI. He communicated with TBI Special Agent Wayne Wesson about the Huntsville Highway location and he was asked to participate in the Huntsville investigation. Elliott received the gun magazine and bullets from Monroe.
Forrest Edde, a criminal investigator with Madison County Sheriff’s Department, took the stand. Edde and Monroe searched the Flint River near the bridge where Gary Stevenson found the gun magazine on Oct. 22. On the morning of Oct. 23, 2012 Edde and Monroe found a handgun within 15-feet of the bank on the northeast side of the river. That morning Edde had gone to B.H. Reeves Road when Crutcher’s body was found. He was with the group of deputies that searched in Hazel Green where the handgun and towel were found. Edde looked at the handgun that was presented as evidence, and said, “It appears to be the handgun that was in the ditch.”
On Nov. 16, 2012 Edde went back to the river and looked for more evidence with a team. Another handgun was found in the river. Crime Scene Investigator Jason McMinn with the MCSD recovered the gun. “It was about 20 or 25 feet from the first handgun found — to the west of it,” Edde said. On cross, Koger asked questions about the exact location of the gun.
The next witness called was Investigator Steve Finley of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He was asked to look for Crutcher at 981 Dan Crutcher Road along with Sgt. Edde and a couple of other deputies on Monday, Oct. 22. He also went to Rhoda Crutcher’s apartment and interviewed her. He was with Edde and Monroe as they went in the Flint River with the metal detector when the last weapon was located. He also went to B.H. Reeves Road where the body was found.
“We checked the residence south of that area of the body,” he testified, adding that an older couple lived there. “Nobody heard anything that morning.” Finley said he went over to the body and didn’t see a blood trail.
Lillie Burrell, older sister of Henry Burrell, was called to the stand. She knew Burrell’s girlfriend as well as Crutcher, who she said was called “Teenager” by Henry in jail. Lillie also knew Moss and saw her brother and Moss together as well as her brother and Crutcher. On Oct. 22, 2012 Lillie received a call from her brother, asking what time she would be home.
Under questioning, she went on to testify that her brother, his girlfriend, and Moss came to her apartment. During that time, the girlfriend had an anxiety attack, she said, adding that her brother said to give her a cold towel. The sister also testified that her brother, Burrell, was walking around the house biting his lip – “He bit his lip when he had done something wrong,” she said. “Face [Moss] was sitting in a chair — he was just looking at the floor.” Neither of the men was acting normally that afternoon, she testified.
Burrell asked his sister to take Moss to The Spot car wash on University, she testified, and when they returned, the girlfriend had calmed. “There was a black bag in the back of the Jeep,” she testified, referring to the girlfriend’s Jeep, going on to say she saw them looking into the bag. “I think they went back to her house,” Lillie said.
An anonymous witness, a narcotics investigator, was asked to testify. On Oct. 23, 2012, he was asked to make contact with Moss at 166 Harlow Drive. On Oct. 24 about 9:30 a.m. the investigator went to the house. Moss had just picked up lunch, he said. The investigator said he identified himself, and Moss got in the front seat next to him. On the way to headquarters, the investigator headed south on Highway 72 to the office.
They crossed the Flint River Bridge, he said. “He got up in the seat and craned his neck to the right … up out of his seat,” testified the investigator. “He was craning his neck the whole length of the bridge … afterward he sat back down.” Nothing else was said for a while, he continued, adding that while they waited for Investigator Patterson at headquarters, Moss ate only one of his chicken wings and threw the rest of the container away.
Investigator Pete Hose of MCSD stepped up to the witness stand. He testified that he had gone to B.H. Reeves Road when the body was first found. The body had been partially covered with leaves, he said. He was asked to look at photos of the body and describe what he saw. Hose had gone to the apartment complex on Sparkman Drive and described the scene. He stayed there for some time, he said, and looked at the Elantra exterior.
“It appeared to be blood stains on the vehicle itself on the rear bumper of the car … the underside had blood stains,” he said, adding there appeared to be blood stains on the left side of the driver’s side door, below the door. Hose was there when they took the Elantra and dumpster to investigations headquarters.