A jury heard Tuesday morning two versions of a West Avenue drug deal turned deadly as attorneys delivered opening statements in Superior Court.
The case concerns the death of Cedric Antonio Huff, 41, of Gainesville, who died June 21, 2014, from injuries related to a gunshot wound. Huff allegedly met with Leshan Tremiele Tanner, 42, June 5, 2014, at his Gainesville apartment to sell a half pound of marijuana.
Assistant District Attorney Juliet Aldridge said Tanner’s alleged order dwarfed his usual purchase of a quarter of an ounce, a sign that something may be amiss.
“Mr. Tanner figured this was an easy way to get rich, because Mr. Huff wouldn’t report it to the police,” Aldridge said.
In her opening statement, Aldridge told the jury of how 27-year-old Rodnie Stokes, Tanner’s former co-defendant, lived near Tanner and their trip together to Huff’s apartment.
Stokes pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter among other charges, leading to a 40-year total sentence with half in confinement.
Tanner allegedly made a call to Stokes’ phone, Aldridge said, so he could hear the end of the conversation inside Huff’s apartment.
“While Mr. Huff goes back to his bedroom to get the marijuana, Mr. Tanner slips to the front door, he unlocks it and leaves it cracked,” she said.
Stokes then allegedly entered the West Avenue apartment, covering his face with a scarf and hat, Aldridge said. The assistant district attorney said Huff then knew something was wrong and fought back.
A Department of Juvenile Justice probation worker said she heard the noise from across the street. She called 911 around 4:24 p.m. June 5, 2014, noticing two men leaving the residence.
Hall County paramedic William Golden testified he and other medical responders arrived on scene roughly seven minutes after the call.
“It looked like (Huff) had possibly walked out there himself and then collapsed,” he said.
Huff suffered a gunshot wound to the upper abdomen and had an exit wound in his back, Golden said. He was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Tanner’s counsel Larry Duttweiler and Rose Priddy joined Tanner at the defense table. Priddy offered the defense’s version of events expected to be seen in testimony, explaining how her client was “duped.”
Priddy claimed Stokes, also known as “Rebel,” needed marijuana to sell, which led to the half-pound arrangement.
While in the apartment, Tanner witnessed a man later determined to be Stokes with a cover on his face, Priddy said.
Tanner got on the ground while “two pairs of feet moved around the living room inches away from his head” in a scuffle, Priddy said.
“He looked up, and he saw his friend shot in the middle of his living room,” Priddy said.
Before the jury entered Tuesday morning, the attorneys took up the issue from Monday concerning Huff’s last words.
According to previous court filings, Huff told his mother in the hospital of Tanner’s involvement before succumbing to his injuries.
Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller ruled to allow some of the statements, adding that the new evidence code “expands the ability of the litigants to introduce evidence.”
“The probative value certainly outweighs the unfair prejudice to the defendant,” Fuller said.
The case is set to reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday.