Testimony begins in Bowie County murder trial

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: Testimony is underway in the trial of a Texarkana, Texas, man accused of fatally shooting another to death after an earlier altercation at a football watching party.

Takyme Devon James, 41, was angry at Tony Sanders, 51, because Sanders got the better of him in a fight Dec. 3, 2017, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards said in opening remarks Tuesday afternoon. Richards told the jury that Sanders regularly rented a clubhouse on Lake Drive in Texarkana on Sundays and invited family and friends to watch football, eat, drink, play cards and socialize.

Richards said James came to the Dec. 3, 2017, party and began drinking. When his conduct became a problem, Sanders told him to leave and the two fought.

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“The evidence is going to be that Takyme got his pride hurt and went out looking for revenge and Tony Sanders ended up dead,” Richards told the jury.

Richards told the jury that after leaving the party in a borrowed van, James met up with a girlfriend and solicited the aid of his two cousins, LaPrense Willis and Clarence Willis, who lived not far from James, not far from the clubhouse, and not far from Sanders’ home. James and the Willis brothers allegedly confronted Sanders after 9:30 p.m. that night in the driveway of his house on Jones Street as he and his wife were about to get in their car to pick up a child.

Richards said Sanders and his wife went in their home and locked the door but it was kicked in and Sanders was shot once with a handgun and that the bullet severed Sanders’ femoral artery in his leg, causing him to bleed to death.

Texarkana, Texas, Police Department Officer Colten Johnson testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that when he arrived, Sanders was lying in a large and growing pool of blood on the floor in the home’s den. Johnson said he and other officers struggled to cut off Sanders’ clothing and find the source of the bleeding. Johnson said the location of the wound in Sanders’ right pelvic area made it difficult to treat with a tourniquet.

Johnson said Sanders lost so much blood it appeared he’d been wounded with a shotgun.

Johnson said that he was covered in blood by the time paramedics arrived and had to go home and change before returning to the scene to write his report. Johnson said that as he traveled back to the scene he saw LaPrense Willis walking out of a nearby convenience store with a soda and bag of chips.

LaPrense Willis and Clarence Willis have been arrested for murder in connection with Sanders’ death.

Texarkana, Texas, Crime Scene Detective Marc Sillivan testified as photos of the Sanders’ home were shown to the jury. The home’s neat appearance stood in contrast to the unhinged front door lying partially inside the living room.

Sillivan said the door had been deadbolted when it was kicked in. Sillivan testified that he and fellow crime scene Detective Spencer Price found a shell casing for a .380 handgun on a couch in the living room.

A photo of a bullet hole that went through the living room wall and into the home’s kitchen area was shown Tuesday. Sillivan said he believes the bullet traveled through the wall and struck Sanders.

Texarkana, Texas, Detective Brian Purcell testified that Sanders’ wife and others who were at the football party were able to identify James and the Willis brothers as suspects. Purcell said James admitted to shooting Sanders when arrested.

Purcell said James gave multiple versions of the night’s events, including claiming that he’d been “jumped” by a group of men at the party. Purcell said that witnesses at the party told him James became unruly after consuming alcohol and that Sanders and James fought after Sanders told James it was time for him to leave.

Under cross examination by Texarkana lawyer Derric McFarland, Purcell said James did tell him that he did not mean to kill Sanders. Purcell testified that when he asked James about the gun, James told him he’d never find it.

Witness Tommy Black testified that he loaned James his van the night of the shooting. Black, who lived and worked with James, said he had to be at work at Tyson in Nashville, Ark., at midnight and called a friend for a ride when James didn’t return with the van.

Black said he saw James in a green mid-sized car as he was leaving for work before midnight on the night Sanders was killed. Black said James called a mutual friend and told him where Black could find his van parked around the corner from their residence on 16th Street.

Black said James’ “attitude does change when he’s been drinking.”

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday morning before 5th District Judge Bill Miller. Murder is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.

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