Murder Trial Of Anthony Russ Gets Underway
By: James Kinsella
Jacques Sellers, 18, was sitting watching television in a house on General Patton Drive in Hyannis when a .40-caliber bullet flew through the window and took his life.
Now Anthony “Little Ant” Russ, 22, is sitting on trial inside the ornate courtroom of Barnstable Superior Court, accused of firing the bullet that killed Mr. Sellers.
The second-degree murder trial of Mr. Russ, a resident of General Patton Drive in Hyannis, got under way Tuesday after two and one-half days of jury selection. Judge Robert C. Rufo is presiding.
In an opening statement, Brian S. Glenny, First Assistant District Attorney of the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office, said Mr. Russ initiated and carried out a gun attack on the residence at 36 General Patton Drive on October 18, 2007.
At about 11:15 that evening, Mr. Glenny said, Mr. Russ and another man, Julian Green of Dennis, fired a succession of shots at the little ranch house. But the prosecutor said Mr. Russ wielded the handgun that fatally wounded Mr. Sellers.
Mr. Russ’s defense attorney, Joan M. Fund of New Bedford, acknowledged in her opening statement that Jacques Sellers was tragically shot and killed.It is important, she said, to “find the right persons who did the attack.”
Ms. Fund emphasized that the prosecution bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Russ committed murder. Probable or possible is not good enough, she said.
Although the prosecution will make the final closing statement in the trial, she said, “It is you, the jury, who has the last word. Your words will be that Anthony Russ is not guilty, because the commonwealth did not prove the charges.”
Jurors listened to witnesses and viewed exhibits Tuesday afternoon, throughout the day Wednesday, and yesterday morning, when the trial broke for the weekend.On Wednesday morning, the jurors were taken by bus to a neighborhood off Bearse’s Way in Hyannis, where they viewed sections of General Patton Drive, including the house where the attack took place.
They also viewed locations on nearby streets including Vineyard Avenue and Skating Rink Road.Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday morning in superior court.
In addition to second-degree murder, Mr. Russ is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a handgun; two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon; illegal possession of a firearm; and illegally discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in prison.
The man with whom he allegedly carried out the attack, Julian Green, now 22, was found guilty after a July trial of second-degree murder and other charges arising from the July 2007 killing.
Mr. Green was sentenced to life in prison.Some of the same witnesses who testified at the July trial also have been testifying at the current trial.
They include Carrie Perry of Hyannis; her then-boyfriend, Ryan Ferguson of Hyannis; and his brother, Rodney Ferguson of Yarmouth.
Ms. Perry and Ryan Ferguson were living at 36 General Patton Drive when the attack occurred.Jacques Sellers, who had come up from North Carolina to stay on the Cape for the summer, also was staying at the house, along with his girlfriend, Courtney Gonsalves of Hyannis.
On the evening of July 18, 2007, Ms. Perry testified, she was watching the news on a television in her bedroom when she heard a series of pops outside the house.
Thinking that someone had set off firecrackers, she went to her window and looked out to see two skinny black men running away. She said they ran between two houses across the street, and then she lost sight of them.
Ms. Perry then became aware of a commotion in the living room. She went to her bedroom door to discover Jacques Sellers lying on the floor.“I was holding him,” Ms. Perry testified. “It was like he was trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear.”
Rodney Ferguson, who had been visiting the house, was calling 911. He then threw the telephone at her and went outside the house.Ms. Perry’s voice can be heard on a recording of the 911 call, a riveting piece of audio evidence also played at the last trial.
The call starts with Rodney Ferguson telling the dispatcher, “Shots fired, 36 General Patton… They just fired at 36 General Patton.”
Ms. Perry then comes on the line, and tells the dispatcher about seeing two black men running away from the house.In the background, Courtney Gonsalves, the girlfriend of Jacques Sellers, can be heard saying, “Please God, no,” and then screaming and crying for the remainder of the call.
Ms. Perry, in her testimony, said the body types of the two men running away initially reminded her of Todd Lampley, who lived at 23 General Patton, and a friend of his who she did not know.Rodney Ferguson said he initially suspected that the “Mississippi boys,” one of whom was Mr. Lampley, had done the shooting.
He said Mr. Lampley came from Mississippi and that Devarus Hampton came either from Mississippi or from Memphis, Tennessee.
Both Mr. Glenny and Ms. Fund pressed Ms. Perry about who she had seen, or thought she had seen. Ms. Perry finally acknowledged that she did not see the faces of either man, and could not be certain who either of them were.
Rodney Ferguson testified that he had a continuing animosity toward Mr. Lampley, who he argued with or beat up on a recurring basis. His last beating of Mr. Lampley, he said, had been several weeks before the shooting.
Also testifying at the trial was Dr. Kimberly Springer of the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston.
Dr. Springer testified that a bullet had entered the body of Jacques Sellers on his left side about midway between his shoulder and waist, traveled through his body, where it perforated the spleen, part of the small intestine and major blood vessels, and stopped just under the skin in the area of his right hip and thigh.
Trooper Michael Arnold of the state police testified that, based on his examination of bullets and cartridges found inside and outside 36 General Patton Drive, two kinds of weapons were used in the assault: most likely a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun, and a .38-caliber or a .357 magnum revolver.
State Police Lieutenant Monti Gilardi, now retired but then involved in the crime scene investigation of the shooting, testified that he examined the premises and gunshot damage at 36 General Patton.
Lt. Gilardi further testified that a glove was found on the ground near the street between 36 and 23 General Patton. Inside 23 General Patton was a black sweatshirt on a chair that he also secured and subsequently examined.
During a cross-examination by Ms. Fund, Lt. Gilardi said he was directed by an investigator to the black sweatshirt, and that he did not examine a large pile of clothes nearby for weapons or other items possibly tied to the shooting.