CONWAY — A remark about drug activity in his cousin’s house ended in the April 2012 shooting death of a 37-year-old Socastee man, according to prosecutors and witness testimony Tuesday.
Minutes after Jerome “JJ” Green walked his cousin Roy Sinclair’s home, he was shot about 10 times and killed about 11:30 p.m. April 30, 2012, inside the mobile home on Figure Eight Road, said Donna Elder, a senior assistant solicitor for the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Marcus Dwain Wright, 31, of Conway is charged with murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and trafficking in cocaine in connection with the shooting.
It was a comment Green made to Sinclair about the drugs and people inside the home that provoked the shooting, Sinclair testified Tuesday.
“JJ says ‘you gonna let them ruin your house like that,” Sinclair testified Tuesday. “Marcus says ‘what the [expletive] did you say, [racial slur]?’ ”
Moments later, Sinclair said he heard a burst of gunfire from Wright in the kitchen to Green, who was standing in the living room. Sinclair said he ran for his life because he was scared.
“I went out and said this guy killed my cousin,” Sinclair said. Soon after Wright left the home and Sinclair testified Tuesday that Wright “told [Lanard Centrell “Capone” Powell] to go in the house and get your [expletive] I just murdered this [racial slur]."
Veronica Chandler, who is a friend of Green’s family, testified Tuesday she was standing talking to Green when he was shot multiple times. She said she was so close she had blood on her and for a moment she thought she had been shot.
“Everything happened in a split second. Boom, boom, boom, boom. There was no argument, no fussing,” Chandler testified, her voice filled with emotion. “Everything happened so fast it was like fireworks. I somehow busted through the back door.
“It felt like my skin was on fire because I was so close to JJ. I peeked back through the door and JJ had on a white shirt and I could see blood patches on it.”
Wright’s attorney, Morgan Martin, told jurors during his opening statements that they need to search for information from witness testimony and evidence of “Who shot JJ Green and why?”
“Marcus Wright has pleaded not guilty. It’s up to the government to prove the guilt of Marcus,” Martin said. “The government says Marcus is guilty, Marcus said I’m not guilty. That leaves it up to you to make that decision.”
Wright is one of four people charged in Green’s death. Wright and Powell, 30, were each charged with murder in Green’s death after police found them May 2, 2012, in a hotel room near Conway. Also arrested was Qwanda Patrice Brown Caldwell, 33, of Columbia. She was found in Richland County by the State Law Enforcement Division and charged with accessory after the fact of murder.
Wright’s wife, Jacinda Elizabeth Wright, 29, of Conway, has also been charged with accessory after the fact of murder. Powell, Caldwell, and Wright will be prosecuted at a later date.
“Marcus Wright is a businessman. His business is drugs,” Elder said during her opening statements. She said Wright was at Sinclair’s home checking on his business, which was being run by Powell at that location when the shooting occurred.
“Marcus is arrogant … Nobody is going to disrespect him like that,” Elder said about Green’s comment to Sinclair after the man walked into the home and saw drugs and a gun on the kitchen table and several people inside.
After the shooting, Elder said Wright left the home and told Powell to do the same, so Powell took Green’s vehicle. The men met and drove Green’s vehicle to Johnsonville after stopping to geta container filled with gasoline and having Caldwell follow them.
While driving Green’s vehicle into a wooded area off a dirt road, a police officer pulled up behind Caldwell, who was waiting on the men, and she explained that she was lost, Elder said. Later, Caldwell picked the men up after they ran from the woods.
The men returned to a Myrtle Beach motel and spent the night. The next day, Jacinda Wright rented Marcus Wright a vehicle and the men moved to the Conway motel where they were arrested, Elder said.
Police found bullet casings and bullets that matched the gun used to kill Green at the mobile home and inside the vehicle Marcus Wright was driving, but they did not find the gun, Elder said.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.