By Ed Brock
Already convicted of murder in the death of a man who once tried to help him, James Stewart Odom took the stand Wednesday to testify against his alleged accomplice in the crime.
Odom, 46, was convicted in September and sentenced to life in prison for the killing of 54-year-old Buford Evans of Hampton on Nov. 9, 2001. During his trial he blamed Bobby Eugene Gray, 45, the man who went to Evans' house on English Road on the day of the killing after a crack-smoking binge.
On Wednesday Odom took the witness stand to repeat his claims at Gray's murder trial that began Monday.
"Buford's been a good friend of mine for years," Odom said at the beginning of his testimony.
Evans' brother Gary Evans has described Buford Evans, who was a disabled veteran, as a Good Samaritan who did what he could to help people. Evans let Odom live with him for a while.
On the night before the murder, Odom testified, he was driving his girlfriend's car that he had borrowed to take to work when he went to pick up Gray.
"(Gray) said he knew where to get some good dope at," Odom said.
The two spent the night driving from place to place, buying crack cocaine, smoking it, borrowing money to buy more and then smoking it, too. Finally, around 3 a.m., they needed more money.
"I said I knew a friend I can borrow it from but I'm not going to wake him up this time of morning," Odom said in a reference to Evans.
Later, around 6:30 a.m., they did go to Evans' home where Evans greeted them at the door and invited them in for coffee. Odom said that the three of them talked and looked at pictures for nearly an hour before Gray and he started to leave.
But when they got to the car Gray told Odom that he had forgotten his cigarettes inside and returned to get them. When he didn't return after two or three minutes Odom went in to get him and found Gray standing over a crouching Evans with a knife in his hand.
"I just ran in and grabbed the knife," Odom said.
Odom went on to say that he tried to help Evans but Gray had a gun and wouldn't allow him to call anybody. Odom also said that when they left the house Odom had suffered only some wounds on his head and a cut above the eye.
At his trial Odom said he believed Evans was alive when they left the house.
Police have said that Evans was severely beaten and stabbed multiple times.
At one point Senior Assistant District Attorney Todd Naugle questioned Odom, whom he had called as a witness, about aspects of his story, including how Gray could have had a gun in the house when he didn't have one in the car.
"In two minutes he managed to cause these injuries to Buford and find a gun in the house?" Naugle asked.
During Odom's testimony Gray stared steadily at his former friend. Odom occasionally glanced at Gray.
Standing in the hallway waiting to testify, Gary Evans said he had not been able to watch the trial. "Everybody I've heard from said the DA is doing a good job," Evans said.
Evans is expected to testify Thursday morning when the trial resumes.