New Boston, Texas–A man who claims he watched as the defendant in a Bowie County murder trial pumped three bullets into a man whose drugs he wanted to steal testified that he kept quiet for months out of fear for his life.
Opening statements and testimony began Tuesday morning in the trial of Marquell Smith, 22, who is one of three charged with murder in the February 2015 death of Christopher Guilbeau. The jury of nine men and three women heard testimony in the afternoon from Devonte “Dee” Evans, a man who claims he witnessed Guilbeau’s murder.
Evans told the jury he was living on the street when he approached Guilbeau’s truck the morning of Feb. 23, 2015. Evans said he asked Guilbeau for a cigarette, under direct examination by First Assistant District Attorney Michael Shepherd. Evans said Guilbeau gave him three cigarettes and a light before Guilbeau asked him if he knew anyone who might want to buy some methamphetamine. Evans said Guilbeau offered to give him money in exchange for arranging a sale.
Evans testified that he directed Guilbeau to a duplex in Texarkana, Texas, where he knew Smith was staying. Evans said Smith told him he would be down in a minute to make the deal after he spoke with him at Shamari Newton’s apartment in the presence of Brandon Brown. Newton and Brown are both facing murder charges in the case.
Evans said he hopped back into Guilbeau’s passenger seat and that Smith got in the seat behind him a short time later. Evans said things in the truck got awkwardly quiet before he noticed Smith was pointing a gun at Guilbeau. Evans said Smith told Guilbeau to give him his drugs before firing the first of three shots. Evans said Smith put the gun to his neck and warned him to keep quiet after Guilbeau was dead.
Under questioning from Smith’s attorney, Bruce Condit of Texarkana, Evans denied being the shooter and claimed he didn’t come forward because he didn’t want to be labeled a snitch. Evans said he has turned his life around and apologized to Guilbeau’s family for bringing him to Smith. In his opening statement, Condit pointed to Evans as the killer.
Guilbeau’s step-father, John Cates, testified that he reported Guilbeau missing March 4 after being unable to contact him since approximately Feb. 20. Cates’ report led Texarkana, Ark., police to flag Guilbeau’s white Dodge truck as wanted in a missing person case the following day, TAPD Capt. Bobby Jordan testified.
Jordan said he was concerned because Guilbeau hadn’t been seen in about 10 days and had not picked up his last paycheck from work. Jordan said a black bag with Guilbeau’s name, mail, wallet and identification was found days before in an alley off Waterall Street in Texarkana. Jordan told the jury that police in Tulsa, Okla., pulled over Guilbeau’s truck about an hour and a half after it was flagged in a law enforcement database. Smith, Brown, Brown’s girlfriend and her baby were in the truck.
TAPD Detective Wayne Easley testified when questioned by Assistant District Attorney Kate Carter that he interviewed the men the morning of March 6 in Tulsa. In a videotape of Smith’s interview, Smith claimed to have rented the truck from Mexicans in Texarkana two days before he was arrested. Smith struggled to explain to Easley how he had been caught on video in the truck in Dallas on Feb. 28 or why officers in Oklahoma had twice helped him and Brown when they ran out of gas in Guilbeau’s truck before it was flagged by TAPD as wanted.
Guilbeau’s body was found in an area of dense brush near the intersection of Della and 12th Streets in Texarkana, Texas, the evening of March 6, testified TTPD patrol officer Brad Sweeden. The body was covered in brown carpet padding and appeared to have been in its location for some time.
Crime scene investigator Spencer Price testfied Guilbeau was shot once in the face and twice in the back. Price said blood patterns on Guilbeau’s shirt lead him to conclude Guilbeau was sitting up when he was shot.
The jury was instructed by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to return to the Bowie County courthouse this morning to hear more testimony in the case. Smith faces five to 99 years or life if convicted.