NEW BOSTON, Texas—Opening statements and testimony began Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting another man who had gotten the better of him in a scuffle that night.
Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards told the jury during opening statements that Takyme Devon James, 40, was humiliated and out for revenge after Tony Sanders, 51, threw him out of a weekly gathering Dec. 3, 2017, at a private clubhouse on Lake Drive. Richards told the jury that Sanders regularly invited friends and family to enjoy food, drinks and football at the Sunday evening gatherings.
Richards told the jury that James' behavior at the party was belligerent and eventually Sanders told him to leave. The two fought and James left with a swollen eye and scratches to his face, Richards said.
Richards said James called two cousins, Laprense Willis and Clarence Willis, and "gets them all riled up." James allegedly acquired a handgun and traveled with the Willis brothers to Sanders' home on Jones Street, not far from the site of the party, and confronted Sanders as he and his wife were getting in their car to go pick up their young child from a babysitter, Richards said.
Richards said Sanders and his wife retreated back into their house and locked the front door. But the door was kicked in and Sanders suffered a single, fatal gunshot wound.
The Willis brothers have both been charged in the case and are not expected to testify.
Texarkana, Texas, Police Officer Colton Johnson testified that when he entered the Sanders' home, he found Tony Sanders breathing but unresponsive in a large pool of blood under a table in a den area. Johnson and other officers worked to find the source of Sanders' blood loss and found it hard to apply a tourniquet because Sanders had been shot in his pelvis.
"This scene was particularly gruesome wasn't it," Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked Johnson.
Johnson testified that he was soaked in Sanders' blood by the time paramedics arrived and had to go home, clean up and put on a fresh uniform before returning to Jones Street to write up his report. Crime scene photos shown to the jury showed a large area of blood on the den's hardwood floor.
A Christmas tree sparkled in the tidy home, the photos showed. Stockings hung from the fireplace in the living room and the toys of a small child could be seen neatly stowed in the den.
Texarkana, Texas, Crime Scene Detective Marc Sillivan testified that a shell casing was found on the living room sofa and that it appears a single shot traveled through a wall and struck Sanders as he was behind it. A photo of the home's front entrance with the door lying on its side and halfway into the living room was shown as Sillivan testified that the door had been kicked in while deadbolted.
Sillivan surmised that the large amount of blood evident in the crime scene photos was the result of a severed artery.
Texarkana, Texas, Detective Brian Purcell testified that Sanders' wife, Dorsanner Butler, was able to provide information that led to the identification of James as the person who fought with her husband at the football party as well as Laprense Willis and Clarence Willis as the men who were with James when the men confronted her husband in the driveway.
Purcell said he determined during his investigation that James, "was not a happy drunk," and that multiple witnesses who attended Sanders' party described his behavior as unwelcome. Purcell said he does not believe James had a gun while at the clubhouse.
Purcell said that James admitted to firing the shot that killed Sanders but gave inconsistent and self-serving statements about what started the conflict between them. Purcell said James claimed that he'd been attacked without provocation in one account.
"He didn't want to admit how the door got kicked in or how he got to the house," Purcell said.
Under questioning from Texarkana lawyer Derric McFarland, Purcell testified that James told him he did not mean to kill Sanders and that James seemed relieved when he learned he was charged with "regular murder and not capital murder."
The last witness to take the stand Tuesday was Tommy Black, a former co-worker of James. Black testified that he and James shared a residence at times on 16th Street and that on the night of Sanders' death, he allowed James to borrow his van.
Black said he had to get a ride to work later that night because James did not return the van. Black said that he did eventually get the van back after a friend who talked to James told him where it was parked.
"His attitude changes, his temper does flare," Black said. "His attitude does change when he's been drinking."
Fifth District Judge Bill Miller instructed the jury to return to court Wednesday morning to continue hearing testimony. James faces five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted.