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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The 40 Boys, Ronald Eugene Brewer, 21, of Rogersville, is a member or “wannabe” member of the “Crips” street gang.

09:21 | , , ,

On the night of Dec. 9, 2008, Brewer was allegedly gunning for a member or “wannabe” member of the rival “Bloods.”An errant shot fired from an elevated position above the Wal-Mart parking lot missed the intended victim and struck Sellers, an innocent bystander, in the back of the neck.Brewer’s first-degree murder trial began Monday in Hawkins County Circuit Court.Brewer’s co-defendant, Travis Lee Goins, 23, of Rogersville, is scheduled to stand trial in June.Public Defender Greg Eichelman said during his opening statement Monday he isn’t disputing whether or not Brewer fired the fatal shot.This trial will come down to if the jury believes it was premeditated first-degree murder or a lesser offense. The verdict will determine whether or not Brewer receives a sentence of life without parole.Sellers, 18, had moved to Rogersville a little less than a year prior to the shooting to live with his mother after graduating from high school in his native Ohio. He planned to begin a job as a union welder the following month and had no part of the alleged gang activity or the dispute that led to his death.It took most of Monday morning to seat a jury, and the afternoon session began with opening statements from both sides.Assistant Attorney General Doug Godbee chalked the case up to “gangs, Bloods, Crips, gang wannabes and kids acting stupid.”Two brothers, Josh Hinkle and Jordon Hinkle, who’d reportedly had an ongoing feud with Brewer and Goins, were hanging out at the Wal-Mart that night.
In his opening statement, Godbee said the Hinkle brothers — also known as Big Hinkle and Little Hinkle — are “either affiliated with, wannabe, try to be, or are a gang called the Bloods. They wear red and they want everyone to know that they are Bloods.”Godbee said Brewer and Goins are members of a gang called “The 40 Boys” or the Crips.
“Crips and Bloods are mortal enemies,” Godbee said. “These Crips and Bloods say they have been enemies since 2003 because Josh wrecked Travis’ car.”Godbee said the evidence will show that Goins and Brewer went to the Wal-Mart parking lot that night, had a verbal altercation with the Hinkle brothers and other Bloods, and then left.Godbee said during the trial he will direct the jury’s attention to Brewer’s statement to police. Brewer allegedly admitted he and Goins retrieved a loaded .22-caliber rifle with a scope from Brewer’s bedroom after the initial altercation.
They returned to the Wal-Mart, were taunted by the Bloods again, and drove to the car wash overlooking the Wal-Mart parking lot.Godbee told the jury the murder was premeditated.The intended target was Josh Hinkle. Although Brewer missed, he still “aimed to kill, intended to kill, planned to kill and pulled the trigger to kill.Godbee read from Brewer’s statement to police:
“I put the gun out the window and I asked Travis where Josh was sitting. Travis said he was sitting on the cart thing. Travis asked me not to kill him so I aimed low in the chest area. I pulled the trigger.”Eichelman said during his opening statement that the fact Brewer aimed low after being asked not to kill Josh Hinkle indicates that this was not an attempted murder. Eichelman called it “a very unlucky shot.”“This is not a plea for innocence,” Eichelman said.Eichelman added, “It’s all very stupid. It’s all very wrong. ... Kids acting stupid. Absolutely. But there is not first-degree murder. There is not intent to kill anybody.”The prosecutors called seven witnesses to the stand Monday, most of whom were hanging out in a rear section of the Wal-Mart parking lot that night and witnessed the shooting.Among the witnesses was Megan Brooks, 17, a high school student who testified that she saw Goins and Brewer that night in a black Nissan Maxima and spoke to them. Brooks testified that before Brewer and Goins left, Brewer told her “make sure none of these boys leave the parking lot. I’m serious.”With regard to any gang affiliations, Brooks testified she didn’t know for sure, although the Hinkle brothers “think they are (Bloods). They acted like it.”
Another high school student, Samantha Allen, 17, was also at the parking lot that night. She described the Hinkles as “wannabe Bloods.” She testified that after hearing a “pop,” which sounded like a firecracker, she observed a black Maxima “flying out of the car wash” parking lot.Wesley Lyles, 28, a friend of Sellers, testified that he was riding around with Sellers that night. They came back to Wal-Mart, where Sellers had left his car, and were talking to people there.Lyles said Sellers was talking with a girl about going to get something to eat when he heard what sounded like a firecracker go off.“He staggered around for a minute, was rubbing his face, and kept asking me what happened,” Lyles said. “I didn’t know what happened. ... He just collapsed right there.”Eichelman told the jury in his opening statement that Brewer will testify in this trial.Among the remaining potential prosecution witnesses are the Hinkle brothers, forensic specialists and a street gang specialist.

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