By Ed Brock
The wife of a man who was killed and his body left in a burning car described one of the suspects in his killing as a close friend.
Tamikia Rozier, 26, was one of the witnesses at the trial of 36-year-old Kenneth Ray Hilton and 38-year-old David Hendrix of Riverdale in which testimony began on Tuesday. Hilton and Hendrix are charged with murder in connection with the September 2003 killings of Rozier's husband Rodney Rozier and 48-year-old Algernon Sedrick Nash of Atlanta.
Police say Rozier and Nash were killed in Hendrix's home on West Fayetteville Road near Riverdale. They were then placed into Nash's Cadillac and driven to a spot on Sullivan Road near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport where the car was set on fire.
In her testimony Tamikia Rozier said her husband knew Hilton, that their children had played together and the two men had played cards together.
"I think he considered Kenny like a brother," Rozier said of her husband. "He would have done anything for Kenny."
Rozier said Rodney Rozier had gone out to play cards on the night of the killings and she didn't realize he was missing until the next day. Terri Wilson of Jonesboro testified that Rodney Rozier and Nash were at her room in the In Town Suites hotel near Jonesboro for about four hours on Sept. 5, the night both men were killed.
"We started playing cards and eating pizza," Wilson said.
Rozier got a phone call at one point in the evening and said he had to go to Riverdale and that he'd be right back. He left with Nash and a third man.
Demetrius T. Stephens, 29, said he rode with Nash to play cards at the hotel that night and after Rozier and Nash left he called Rozier on his cell phone. He got him one time, at which point Rozier said they were going through Riverdale.
After that Stephens, who was ready for Nash to take him home, called the men seven to eight times but got no answer.
Tommy Lima, a crime-scene investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, described to the jury his examination of the burned car and bodies as well as Hendrix's home.
Rozier's body was found in the back seat of the car and at first was believed to be the only one in the car, Lima said.
"It was extremely burned, burned beyond recognition," Lima said.
Later Clayton County police called and said they believed another body might be in the trunk, so they pried the trunk open and found Nash's body inside.
Both men had suffered injuries to their heads. Back at Hendrix's house Lima and other investigators found two discharged shotgun shells in a garbage can and part of a shotgun in a hutch in the living room. There were also shotgun pellets in the ceiling.
They also found a large quantity of what Lima called "suspected blood" soaked through the carpet of the living room and covered with cat box filler. There were suspected blood stains on the sofa and "impact splatters" of possible blood on the wall behind the sofa.
In the back yard they found drops of possible blood in several locations, some leading down a small path behind the house.
Testimony in the trial is expected to begin again this morning.