Defendant identified as ring leader in capital murder trial

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: The defendant in a capital murder trial which began Wednesday morning in Bowie County was identified as the ring leader of a botched robbery attempt by a co-defendant.

Anthony Wilson Jr., 20, is one of four men charged in the March 29, 2016, death of Texarkana father Casey Smith. Smith was shot to death as he sat in his car waiting for his children’s school bus in front of a house on Mamie Street in Texarkana, Texas.

Marshall Vallejos, 23, pleaded guilty in March to felony murder and is serving a sentence of life with parole possible. Capital murder charges remain pending against Jaquelle Rogers, 22, and Jailon Gamble, 20. Rogers testified Wednesday under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that Wilson provided the guns and that it was his idea to rob Smith.

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Rogers said he and Vallejos, who are half brothers, were riding around and smoking marijuana with Wilson and Gamble in Gamble’s car. Rogers said Wilson had a gun and had Gamble drive to meet a friend of Wilson’s who gave him another gun, which he gave to Vallejos. Rogers said Wilson spotted Smith driving his white Chevrolet Tahoe and wanted Gamble to follow him so he could rob him. Rogers said Wilson was the only one of the men who knew Smith and that Wilson believed Smith would have money.

Rogers said Wilson instructed Gamble to park on a street near a field not far from the Dollar General store on South Lake Drive where Smith stopped. Rogers said Vallejos and Wilson walked to the store while he and Gamble waited in Gamble’s car. Rogers said the two decided not to rob Smith at the store after running into Vallejos’ mother.

Rogers said Wilson had Gamble park in a field near the house in the 2400 block of Mamie Street where Smith stopped to wait for his children’s bus. Casey Smith’s wife testified that the house where Smith often picked up the children belongs to her best friend.

Rogers said Wilson carried an unlit marijuana cigarette and planned to distract Smith by walking up and asking him for a light. Rogers said he walked down a trail where he could see what was happening when Wilson and Vallejos walked toward Smith’s car. Rogers said he could not hear what was said before Wilson started firing multiple shots. Rogers said Vallejos fired once.

Under cross examination by Texarkana attorney Derric McFarland, Rogers denied that he and the other men got together and decided to blame Wilson when McFarland asked if they had, “gotten their story straight.”

Texarkana, Texas, Crime Scene Investigator Mark Sillivan testified that Smith had been shot numerous times. Sillivan said Smith had $36.01 in his pocket and that Smith’s cell phone was found broken in the driveway of the house where Smith was parked. A marijuana cigarette which appeared to have been lit and then gone out was discovered in the floor of the driver’s side of Smith’s car, Sillivan testified. Sillivan said the marijuana cigarette was sent to the state crime lab for testing. In her opening statement, Crisp told the jury that Wilson’s DNA was found on the marijuana cigarette and that she believes it was dropped into Smith’s car by Wilson when he attempted to rob Smith.

Dallas medical examiner Stephen Hastings testified that Smith was shot several times in the back, arm and leg and that bullets and bullet fragments recovered did not match a bullet wound which shattered Smith’s jaw. During his testimony, Rogers said Wilson fired multiple times and that Vallejos fired once. Tunnell testified that Smith was shot at least six times.

Texas Department of Public Safety firearms examiner Nathan Tunnell testified that a bullet removed from Vallejos’ knee the night of the shooting at a local hospital where he was arrested matches bullets removed from Smith’s body. Crisp told the jury in opening statements that Wilson accidentally shot Vallejos when he was firing at Smith.

Witness Robert Jackson testified he was in a friend’s yard directly across the street from the spot where Smith was killed when he heard shots ring out and “hit the ground.” Jackson said when the shooting stopped and he looked up, he saw three men running to a car parked in a nearby field, one of whom had blond tips on his hair.

Rogers testified that Wilson was the only one of the men who had blond tips in their hair the day of Smith’s murder.

More experts from the state crime lab are scheduled to testify Thursday morning. The state is not seeking the death penalty for any of the men. If found guilty of capital murder, Wilson will receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

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