03/24/09 — Jury now deliberating outcome of murder case

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Jury now deliberating outcome of murder case

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 24, 2009 1:46 PM

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Roderick Miles Davis Jr. smiles at a family member during his trial on Monday.

Jurors began deliberating Monday afternoon in a Wayne County Superior Court trial of a Goldsboro man accused of killing two people in 2006.

Roderick Miles "Ricky" Davis Jr., 25, is accused of killing James Lee "Slick" Croom, 24, of Bizzell Court and Trasond Javoy "T.J." Gerald, 20, of Prince Avenue.

Jurors were expected to continue deliberations this morning.

Davis testified he opened fire on a Dodge Stratus in August 2006. The defendant testified it was self-defense because he claims Croom pointed a gun at him from the vehicle's driver seat.

Final arguments were made Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Delbridge said Davis was prepared for the violent episode.

"War. That's a word that comes from the defendant. I'm not using it," Delbridge said, referring to a number of attempts on the lives of people in the defendant's Slaughter Street neighborhood.

The violence began after a burglary of Jamie and Maleek Oates' home, followed by a number of alleged shooting attempts on the Oatses and Davis Jr. Maleek Oates was shot in the foot about one day before Davis allegedly killed Croom and Gerald, according to police.

Delbridge referred to a letter that Davis wrote from prison.

"And his letter to 'King Jamie' (Oates), when he talks about the war. The war is a characterization of the defendant that he uses to paint the situation. You know what is about a war -- you don't need self-defense when you're at war. When you're at war, you kill on sight."

Davis' attorney, Geoff Hulse, has tried to paint Davis as a man scared for the safety of himself and his family.

Delbridge attempted to connect Davis with a life of drugs and other crime, and said the shootings were really all about protecting "his boy," Maleek Oates.

Hulse said the jury had to weigh the evidence carefully and decide whether Delbridge had produced enough evidence to convict the defendant.

"If you find that Ricky believed it necessary to use deadly force against these individuals, that the circumstances were sufficient to create a belief of that, that he was not the aggressor, and that he did not use excessive force, basically, you are finding him not guilty," Hulse said.

Hulse said that the prosecution only had "theories" about what happened, not concrete evidence of the chain of events.

The defense attorney said Gerald's hands were never tested for gunshot residue, and that Croom's gunshot residue test came back inconclusive.

According to testimony, Davis fired 15 times, and three shots were fired from weapons inside the vehicle.

Hulse said the physical evidence gathered is not enough to prove that Davis was the aggressor.

"It's understandable that the state has several theories, and it's understandable that they'd like for you to adopt one of those theories," Hulse said. "The problem is they haven't shown enough evidence on any of them ... to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ricky Davis did not use self-defense."