Pyant Trial Testimony - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Pyant Trial Testimony

Jacques Pyant-Day 2 of testimony 

Bob Becher, Madison County Chief Trial Attorney

"October 8, 2009 an email came. The case was originally set then. In preparation for that date. I needed to show the defense attorney all evidence....pictures, clothing, etc. Do you have physical evidence at your office? Monday this week. This is an exhibit before the court. We will not go into pictures into this case. I do not have them. Another issue to bring up to the court. Investigator Lisa Hamilton will testify that she took the swab for DNA from Pyant and he refused. We were going to try and match DNA.'

Robert Payne, Defense Attorney

"If they wanted DNA swab they could have done so." 

Judge Karen Hall

"I deny your request for a mistrial Mr. Payne. Let's proceed."

Court back in session 10:08am

Questioning by Prosecutors of Bonnie mccorski---Huntsville Police Investigator

Where you assigned to some of the cases of Pyant? "Yes. Others were too." Were you called when Pyant was taken into custody on December 3, 2008? "Yes." Are you aware of all the locations where the victims were taken from? "Yes sir." This marker on the board here is what? "Defendants home on Bonnell Drive." This one here? "This is Wynn Drive." Who lives here? "Victim 1" This one here East of Research Park Boulevard? "Stones Throw." Who lives there? "Victim 2" These 2 are the same apartment complexes? "Yes. Rime Village" The victims there? "Victims 3, 4" How bout this one to the right? "Utica Place. Victim 5 was taken from there." This one? "That's Royal Pines. Victim 6 was taken from there." Can you tell the jury about Executive Apartments? "Yes its off Sparkman. Its on the west side of Sparkman from Bonnell Drive." Another marker on this map, Investigator, what is it? "Whitesburg." Are you familiar with all these areas? "Yes." Does this map correctly depict where the victims were taken from? "Yes."

Cross examination by Defense attorney Robert Payne

Could you tell the judge and jury if everyone of these place is in Madison County? "Yes." Were you called? "Yes I was on call that evening. I was called out to the area. I spoke with the officer (Shane Hitt) and talked to the investigator to see if evidence was secure. I looked in the backseat and saw the suspect in the back seat of the patrol car." What did you see in the car? "I asked Officer Hitt what he had. He directed me to the passenger seat. I saw a gun, mask, large amount of money, gloves in the front seat. I don't touch any gun. I wanted to make sure it was clear." Is Officer Shane Hitt still with Huntsville Police Department? "Um, I Don't believe he is employed with us at this time. Don't know exactly why. He had several back surgeries, experienced pain and got hooked on pain pills. That's all I know." What did you do when you saw the evidence on the seat? "Didn't touch it. Spoke with the officer. I went back to the patrol car to speak briefly with the victim. I got a bag out of my trunk to retrieve evidence from the patrol car. The evidence was put in my trunk, taken to West Precinct until I turned it over to Investigator Lisa Hamilton." What happened to the money? "I talked to the victim and told her I would turn over money to her the following day." You remember the denomination of the bills? "$20.00 bills." Who did you give evidence too? "Investigator Hamilton." Where did you give the evidence? "West Precinct. I viewed the defendant in this case. He was wearing black hoodie zip up, gray sweatshirt, blue jeans. The gray shirt had white on it. It was on the left breast area. The jacket was longer maybe down to mid thigh area." Where is the black hoodie? "Uh, its been destroyed by the Madison County Jail." Did you discover if Mr. Pyant played football? "Yes Alabama A and M. Stopped playing ball in 2006." You look at him lately? "Yes sir." Does he weigh the same. "He looks like he has lost weight." 

Cross exam of Investigator McCorski by defense attorney Payne 

Good morning. Did you take the serial numbers from the money to Wachovia Bank? "No." Search Mr. Pyant's apartment for missing items? "What kind of missing items? " One victim lost a Wii machine. "Yes. We had a receipt." I have a report here that shows a serial number to the Wii game. "I don't know if that's it. I didn't write that down." Did you do a search warrant to determine if that item was there? "No sir." Did you search his apartment for clothing? "No sir." Did you do an inventory of my client's car? "I did not personally, no sir. The vehicle was impounded. It is mandatory any vehicle is inventoried. I don't have possession of the inventory sheet." In regards to these women who were robbed,did any identify a car used by the suspect? "No sir." In regards to one of the victims did you determine if anyone saw Mr. Pyant "No sir." Victim "B"? "I can't testify to that." Any of the other victims? "I can't testify to that." In regards to the items in the car, you would have to rely on Officer Hitt's notes? "They were in the seat when the individual was stopped. I got there an hour later."

(Becher) Why did you not do a search of Mr. Pyant's apartment? "Mr. Pyant was involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend and was no longer living there." When you looked at his car what did you see? "It appears he was living in his car. There was a large amount of clothing. The residence on Bonnell Drive was his girlfriends."

Robert Payne to McCorski

You don't know where Mr. Pyant was staying during robberies? "I don't know that." You did determine no Wii machine was inside the car ?"No sir." Was it pawned? "If that is a legitimate serial number pawn shops have to turn it in. Nothing so far has come up on it." My clients clothing was in the car you didn't make a list of items you found? "I don't know. I did not inventory the articles in the car. Just what was in the seat." Any cell phones? "Mr Pyant had 2 cell phones on his person." Notice a gym bag in the back? "I may have but didn't pay attention." How bout firearms? "No other weapons were found." There was a another description of a gun that was silver. That been located? "No sir."

Investigator Lisa Hamilton---Crime Scene Investigator for HPD

Were you on duty December 4, 2008? "Yes sir. I went to West Precinct." Do you know Jacquay as the Defendant? "Yes he has on a suit and tie." What about that night? "He was in Rodney White's office. Black hooded sweatshirt, handcuffs, jeans. There was writing on the left chest {of his jacket}. It was light colored." Did you collect evidence from Inv. McCorski? "Yes I did." You recognize the item in this brown bag? "Yes I do." Writing on that item? "Yes it's mine. Date, case number, officer, robbery, Pyant, etc. Contents came from McCorski. This is a full black ski mask. Dark cotton work gloves. Gerber Knife. 40 caliber handgun." All these items in same condition as when you received them? "Yes they are." Did you attempt to get swab for DNA? "Yes I did. He (Pyant) would not comply."

Robert Payne--cross examine

Did you get an order? "No I didn't."

10:43 State rests

Defense moves for acquittal on all accounts. Complete absence of proof, no eyewitness. In regards to another victim, no proof of robbery, no force used whatsoever. In regards to all but one failure of proof my client committed this crime." Motion is denied by Judge Hall.

Defense witnesses--

Investigator Rodney White

Are you familiar with this case? "Yes I handled 2 of the cases. They happened on the same evening." Were you notified of a suspect? "Yes. I was told HPD had a black man in custody. The suspect was approximately 6" tall." No determination of weight? "I don't recall at the time. He seemed to be slimmer. Said his mother lived nearby." You took photos? "Yes I did." Is that a fair and accurate copy of the photo? "Yes it is." Did you determine Mr. Leslie (suspect) was not involved in the robbery? "Did he have a hood on with any fake fur around it. The victims said no. We knew the offender left on foot around the area. Police was checking Mr. Leslie was the person." You gave a description of the coat to the two women? "Yes."

Did you talk to Mr. Leslie, his mother. "Yes I did." she verified he had been with her? "Yes. He had a slim build." Other than being a black male, 6' tall with hood on, that's all there was? "Yes."

Patricia Robbin, Pyant's aunt--

 "I live in Tuskgee Alabama. I'm employed with a correction facility and I'm an LPN. I'm the aunt of Jaquay. I own the vehicle he was driving when he was arrested. I was contacted 3 days later with an impound receipt to pick up the car. I had to wait until December 13th. I had to wait for my 2 sons to take tests in college to drive me up. I took photos of the interior of the car the way you (defense attorney) instructed me. There was a book bag, motorcycle jacket, football cleats. There was a stretch bag with a string. It had some papers and CD's inside, couple pair of pants in the trunk. He has a big sound system in the back. He was playing football he had invitation to pro. He was still practicing. He was in Kentucky playing ball. He looked like he was carrying football gear."

Cross examine by defense

You live in Tuskgee. How is it he was driving your car? "I raised him. I always furnished his car, food, clothes. I'm sort of like his mother. He's a two time champion football player." When was last time you say Jaquay? "Maybe 4-5 months ago. I always called and he called me." You hadn't seen him 4 months prior to this happening? First time you've seen him is this week? "Yes." Does he look like he's lost weight? "He really look about the same to me." Got an invitation to play pro football at that size? "Yes he was an A&M champion. He had an invitation to try out."

Sgt. Mark Roberts, called by defense

You give a statement saying there was a second suspect in the ATM robberies? "Yes. He was arrested at Payless shoes. November 19th SWAT Team and myself got information and arrested an individual involved in robbing the store. Some of the physical characteristics matched the suspect at the ATM. He was 6'1-6'2 about 200 pounds. His name was Lawrence Edward Johnson.' What kind of personal information do you have on him? "He was 28 years of age. Tall, weighed around 200 pounds.' On December 4th you did a news release? "Yes that's correct." It allowed HPD to clear several of the ATM robbery cases? "Yes sir."

Cross examine of Sgt. Mark Roberts by defense-

You drew some connection because of location and description. As far as the person you arrested, he was in jail on December 3rd? "Yes sir." It involved him robbing a shoe store? "Yes sir. No similarities. All we had at the time we get a suspect that matches physical characteristics we don't rule them out."

Back from lunch break...defense continues calling witnesses to the stand.

Judge Karen Hall.

"One of the witnesses will not be necessary to call to the stand. So for what he would have testified on I will explain. Last Tuesday, photos of the defendant's teeth were taken and have been entered into evidence. This was in agreement by both parties."

Derrick Franklin, friend of defendant

"I've known Jaques since 2003. We played football at A&M together. We are friends. We played flag football after school." When the weather was cold what kind of gear did you wear "We wore what we could wear. He wore a ski mask and gloves. Some had regular gloves, some football gloves. We tried to stay warm and protect ourselves. He played defensive lineman in flag football to protect yourself from bruises he wore gloves." Do you recognize this piece of clothing, seen him wear it? "Yes. He wore that toboggan several times. He has a motorcycle and wore it then too. Last time I seen him wear them was at a game in Kentucky in 2008 and a game a weekend before. I wore hoodie, toboggan with it pulled over my head."

Defense rests at 1:38 PM

Closing by state, Assistant Attorney Jason Scully-Clemmons:

"As I mentioned to you the most patriotic thing a person can do is serve on a jury. It takes patience, attentiveness a and diligence. As we talked during jury selection, the burden of proof is on the state. It is our job to prove the defendant committed the crime. Let's talk abut elements of the crime. The Judge will instruct you on the law. You are the final authority in this case. He's been charged with 5 counts of kidnapping in the 2nd degree. The judge will tell you that is if he abducts another person...to use deadly force on the person. You heard about a weapon in this case. You didn't hear the defendant was kin to any of the victims, random acts. He did not know his victims. He is also charged with 7 counts of robbery in the 1st degree. The definition of that crime is this, a person commits that crime if he is armed with a deadly weapon or dangerous weapon and in so doing while armed with that dangerous weapon the person takes the property of another person. He's charged with 1 count of sodomy in the first degree. The definition...A person commits that crime if he engages in deviant sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion. Those are the elements the state has to prove. The Judge will tell you to consider each count against the defendant separately and decide if we have met our burden of proof. Lets go through how each case has been proven. November 12, the victim was coming back to 650 Wynn Drive around 11:15 after watching TV with a friend. Got out of the car to her apartment, approached by a muscular black man. She said he had a ski mask, holding a silver semi-automatic handgun. She said he told her to get back into the vehicle at gunpoint, told her to drive to an ATM take out money and give that money to him. He abducted her, made her get in the car at gunpoint. He made her drive to a location where she had to take out money again. On November 16, 2008 you heard a second victim testify, it was emotional. In opening, Mr. Payne suggested you ask for facts and evidence disregard emotion. What Mr. Payne is suggesting is that her emotion is not facts in this case. The victim arrived back at Stone's Throw Apartments she was approached by a black man wearing a black ski mask, dark clothing, gloves. She saw him approaching her, get in her car against her will, drive to an ATM. She only had $67.00 pardon the language "you know you f***** up." He made her drive to a secluded location, forced her to perform oral sex, swallow his ejaculate. That wasn't enough. He kidnapped her, sodomized her and robbed her. Made her take that $67 out of her account. That same night another victim told you she was headed back to Rime Village from Checkers. She got back, going to get out of the car, forced back inside by a black man with the same description. Made her drive to an ATM at gunpoint. You know the facts in each of these cases. Not going through it again. November 18, 2008 had to be a frustrating night for the defendant. Only 2 women that he did not successfully kidnap and rob testified about what happened on that night. One victim testified she was coming back to her place her 2 year old grandson was in back seat. She was ill, sick at her stomach. There was a black man with same description cursing at her, threatened her life. Told her to drive. Got in beside her 2 year old grandson. She resisted. Wasn't going to have it. She laid on the horn. That's why it must have been frustrating for Mr. Pyant. She was not going to put her grandson in that kind of danger. For her bravery she got punched in the face with a gloved hand. She tells you it was the hand holding the gun it was the fist that made contact with her face. She felt the cloth of the glove on her face. Pyant took off running with her property, which he took at force by gunpoint. That's the robbery. He's not charged with kidnapping b/c she would n't let him. That same night, not very far away, less than a mile, about 30 minutes later Adrian Fields was coming home. She had been on the phone with her son. She got out of her car to go inside, he approached her from behind...same description, she dropped to the ground. She heard what was going on in that part of town. She knew she was in the heart of where this was happening. She was afraid. She screamed. You didn't hear testimony about what he was wearing on his feet. She saw it. He kicked her with the black boots.Kept kicking and cussing her. He took her phone at gun point. There is no kidnapping there either. She was able to keep that from happening. When the defense asked the victim if she went to the ATM, she said "NO I didn't know his intentions." Jury, you do. That brings us to the night of November 28, 2008. The victim said she was unloading her car from a trip, it was Thanksgiving weekend, in comes a black man of same description. Her situation is a little different, this was about opportunity. He wanted her money, she emptied her purse. He took it from her at gunpoint. In several of these incidents the assailant threatens to kill the innocent victim. She said "don't kill me." He knew that was on her mind all he had to say was do what I tell you and you won't get hurt. It was a death threat on his mind, death threat on her mind. He made her go out to the car, sat behind her like he always did, drove to the ATM. Emotion is evidence. We all know what happens when we get nervous. The victim forgot her pin number. He was mad. He had been cursing her threatening to "kill and rape your dead body." He hit her in the head with the gun. She is scared he told her "I'm going to get my money." He directs her to Wachovia. Then our hero, Muhammad Campbell, a solider now stationed at Fort Irwin, drove up behind them. She saw the witness, didn't know him, somebody is behind me maybe he'll know something is wrong. While the defendant was robbing the victim the witness was watching. The witness pulled to the ATM, went to check his balance, looked back up the same car, pulled back up was happening all over again. That point he called 911. He explained what was happening. An officer was sent to the bank. The victim had already been kidnapped and robbed to the tune of $400 at the ATM. The officer sees a green crown Victoria blow through the stop sign. As the light shines on the defendant. He saw a look of fear, this was a person of interest, he pulled them over asked the driver "do you have a weapon in the car?" "Yes I have a weapon in the front seat." He's arrested minutes after the last victim got our of her car and ran. Minutes after the victim left her vehicle in the very same neighborhood, note something. Each of those ladies there told you yea that looked like the ski mask the assailant wore, those are the gloves, that handgun was used against them. Those items were found next to the defendant in the vehicle. The victim that night was brought to where Pyant was being held. She testified to her certainty. You have heard why in each of the cases there are facts and evidence that connects this man to the crimes. We've proved our case. I thank you for your diligence in this case. In his opening Mr. Payne suggested we wouldn't give you facts and evidence. But we did that. He suggested we would try to fit a square peg in a round hole. We did our job. I want to listen as Mr. Payne tells you where the square pegs are for these round holes. Thanks."

Robert Payne, CLOSING ARGUMENT...

"At the beginning of the case an example was given as to circumstantial evidence, you wake up in the morning with snow on the ground rabbit tracks in the yard. Let's take it a step further, no other house has snow but yours does that mean it snowed last night? No it doesn't. The state is trying to make this an emotional case. These women were traumatized. Can you convict a man without evidence? Let's talk about steps that Jaques did. On the 911 tape the woman said Pyant had terrible teeth. Look at these photos he does not suffer from this condition. She says if I had seen his teeth I could have identified him. Did they do that? No. I had a lot of conversation with this man. We listened to 7 different 911 tapes. Nothing that you could listen to and decide its him. She testified and said, "Yeah it matches. I think that's him." What else did the state not do? Gave back the money to the victim. They didn't retain it or check it they gave it back. When it comes out of the ATM it's new, with serial numbers. No that didn't happen. The state doesn't want you to see what it could be. They want you to feel the emotion, anger. They believe they have the right man. Even once they arrested Pyant what else could the state do, did they take photos, go to the neighborhoods, no. So literally we have 5-6 ladies that can put him in the neighborhood. They don't bother to do a search warrant and go to his place. They weren't sure where he lives they didn't execute a search warrant. One victim has a Wii game stolen they could have checked instead nothing. What you have is emotion. No DNA evidence linking Pyant to the crime scene. A swab sample on one victim came back negative, no fingerprint, no car description. We provided the names of 2 other people it could be. The state's response? No that's not him, not wearing the same coat. Did you see if he had a record? No. We had testimony given on a second suspect. The state says no not him. How can they be so sure one man did all this. Where is the evidence? There is none. Reasonable doubt. What if it's not Mr. Pyant at all? Consider the evidence and facts not emotions."

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