09/23/10 — Testimony continues in Wright trial

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Testimony continues in Wright trial

By Laura Collins
Published in News on September 23, 2010 1:46 PM

The state continued its case against Jerome Demond Wright Wednesday in Wayne County Superior Court. Wright is accused of trying to kill Goldsboro Police Officer Clint Hales in June 2008.

Wright, 27, faces one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of marijuana.

Wright, who already is serving time for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The shooting occurred when Wright was stopped near the intersection of Elm and Creech streets because of a suspected taillight violation.

The prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Mike Ricks, began Wednesday by calling Christopher Sassone as a witness. Sassone lives on Creech Street and lived there at the time of the shooting more than two years ago. He and his family went to church on the day of the shooting and came home around 6 p.m. to find the area around his house roped off.

Sassone, along with investigators, found what appeared to be two bullet holes in his house. One entered just above the bed in his daughters' room and lodged in a nearby wall.

"My kids play in that room," he said. "Exactly where the bullet entered in and where it landed is exactly where my kids play every day."

In response to a question from Defense Attorney William Bland, Sassone said he was not present when the shooting happened and added that he has heard gunshots in the neighborhood before and has called police about them.

The state also called Wayne County paramedic Allen Jones as a witness. Jones was among the emergency personnel who responded to the scene and treated Wright, who was shot in the buttocks by Hales. The state also called Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell as a witness. Bell said he spoke with Hales after his surgery.

Bell said Hales told him he was having problems with the camera in his squad car at the time, so it was not working at the time he stopped Wright.

According to Bell's testimony, Hales told the chief that he stopped Wright because one of his taillights was out and that when he approached the car, Wright had his hands in his pockets. Hales told Wright to remove his hands, at which point the defendant produced the gun, according to Bell's recount.

Defense attorney Bland asked Bell about the amount of marijuana allegedly found in Wright's car, saying that 12.8 grams is a relatively small amount that carries only a misdemeanor charge.

"In the scheme of things, that amount of marijuana is at the bottom of the scale," Bland said.

Bell said he did not know the exact amount of marijuana found. Bland also touched on the in-car camera, saying even if it was not working properly that it still should have been left on just in case it recorded anything.

Ricks then asked Bell if he had heard Hales was having problems with his camera prior to June 8. Bell said he had not heard about the problems, but added that those types of complaints are normally handled without reaching his desk.

The state spent the rest of the afternoon questioning Pat Johnson Matthews, a crime scene technician with the SBI. Ms. Matthews explained pictures of the crime scene to the jury, including shell casings found inside and outside of the car and bullet holes in the car.

Investigators also found a small scale and small plastic bags located in a black bag in the trunk of the car.

The SBI also determined that the taillights were working, she said.

Testimony was to resume today, starting at 11 a.m.