Witness testified she hid alleged murder weapon

Suspect questioned how many died from shooting

JONESBORO — A key witness in the Patrick Ramon Moore murder trial told the court that Moore aimed at three people and “tried to shoot them all in the head,” then laughed about it.

Jessica Pettis testified that Moore immediately called her following the Jan. 3, 2011, shooting which claimed the life of Tracy Burton Jr., 20, of Riverdale. Other shooting victims include Jervod Jarvis and Fabian Ellis, according to Clayton County Police.

Moore, 23, of Morrow, is charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Moore, a Vice Lords gang member, according to authorities, was arrested the following day of the shooting, during a joint investigation by Clayton County Police and the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Pettis also testified she hid the alleged murder weapon, an AK-47, in her closet.

Pettis said Moore called her while police were at her home. She said the first time she ignored the call, and it went to her voice mailbox. The second time she was instructed by Clayton County Police investigators to answer the call and put it on speaker phone, as they listened in on the call.

“He asked me to go outside and see how many people were dead,” Pettis said. “He said he tried to [shoot] their cabbage off.” Pettis explained to the court that “cabbage” referred to the shooting victims’ head.

“He was laughing,” she added. “He asked me who gave the police his name? I said I didn’t know, because I didn’t know his name. I knew him as Crown.”

Pettis told the court she was playing video games when she heard the gun shots from her Royal Pointe apartment.

“I heard rapid, quick, and loud gunshots,” said Pettis. “Then I asked, ‘Where is Crown?’ ”

Pettis said shortly afterward she saw a dark-skinned black male leave the AK-47 on her sofa. She testified Moore always referred to the AK-47 as his chopper.

“I picked it up and put it in my bedroom closet,” she said. She said within minutes she got a call from Moore.

“He said, ‘Put the chopper up,’ ” Pettis said. “I asked him what happened. He said he couldn’t talk.”

Lead state prosecutor Katie Powers questioned Pettis about Moore shooting his victims.

“When you were speaking with Moore and he said he was trying to take their heads or cabbage off, did he ever say he was acting in self-defense?” Powers asked.

“No,” replied Pettis.

Some of the members of the jury were visibly shaken when photos of Burton’s legs and later his body were flashed across a large screen as police investigators testified. They were also visibly disturbed when prosecuting attorney Philip Curtis handed Clayton County Police Detective K. Macgill the alleged murder weapon, a black AK-47.

“This is the weapon I obtained from the closet, an AK-47 and clip with 17 live rounds removed from the weapon,” said Macgill. “One round was in the chamber of the gun the other 16 rounds were inside the magazine.”

Macgill said police searched the Royal Pointe apartment complex for three hours and never located guns that the defense said had been discarded. The investigator told the court half of the 16 shell casings located were 9-millimeter shell casings. The other half, he said, belong to the AK-47. Both were found in the same area.

Some shell casings that were found had rusted, which indicated they were older than the date of the shooting, according to Macgill.

For the first time, Clayton County Police investigators used an AutoSketch during a murder trial. Kris M. Stuart was the lead Crime Scene Investigator of the murder case. Stuart used the device to show details of photos and diagrams on a large wide screen for the court.

Stuart pointed out during his PowerPoint presentation, where police had tagged and labeled the locations of shell casings.

Powers asked Stuart, who is a blood analysis expert, to describe the blood pattern near Burton’s body.

Stuart said the blood pattern showed Burton was breathing heavily and running.

Police did not find a weapon on Burton, but they did recover a cell phone, according to Stuart. He testified that there was no indication Burton made a call for help during the shooting.

Stuart showed the court photos of narcotics inside plastic bags, one of which police believed to be marijuana they found in the shrubbery in the area of the Royal Pointe apartment complex where the shooting took place.

“The shell casings [found near Burton’s body] did not appear to be aged, rusted, or dirty,” said Stuart, who added he collected 14 shell casings.