Tawuan Townes and a second man tortured and beat a 28-year-old man before shooting him to death during a burglary, District Attorney Doug Valeska argued to a jury Tuesday.
Townes, 20, faces a capital murder charge in the shooting death of Christopher Woods on Nov. 13, 2009. If convicted of the capital murder charge Townes faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Police are still looking for a second suspect, Cornellious Benton, who has also been charged with capital murder.
Valeska argued during his opening statements Tuesday morning that Townes fatally shot Woods during a burglary at the Blackshear Street home he shared with girlfriend. Valeska said Townes and Benton forced their way into the home with the intention of stealing money and drugs from Woods.
“The evidence will be Townes had a .22-caliber rifle that was his brother's, and Chris Woods had no weapon,” Valeska said. “The evidence will be not only did they shoot him twice, they beat him on the side of the face and on the head.”
Valeska said according to Townes’ statement to police, Benton beat Woods for more than five minutes during the burglary. He also said Townes was well aware Woods would likely have money and cocaine, and planned to rob him. Valeska called Townes a “cool, calm and collected killer.”
“He tells more than 30 something lies in his statement, where he tries to minimize and put it on Benton,” Valeska said. “After this trial everybody’s going to know Townes put it on Benton.”
Attorney Eric Davis, who represents Townes, said his client willingly gave police a statement. Davis said if his client lied to police it was no different than what they did to him.
“Listen to each and everything. You all get to choose what’s a lie, not the state,” Davis said.
Davis said his client, who was 18 at the time of the murder, “hatched” what he referred to as an immature plan to better himself by moving to Mississippi to get his GED.
“If you need money, you can rob somebody that’s not going to report it to the police,” Davis said.
Davis acknowledged his client and Benton forced their way into the home, but he said his client only fired his gun to scare Townes.
“There was no specific intent to kill,” Davis said. “I’ll show you a reason to find him guilty of something other than capital murder.”