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Barrow murder trial heads to jury

WINDER - The fate of two men accused of shooting Aaron Lamar Gaddis in the heart May 27 is in the hands of a jury.

Attorneys completed closing arguments Wednesday afternoon in the murder trial of Michael Antonio Williams, 28, of Stone Mountain and Maurice Lamar Flournoy, 26, of Monroe.

Prosecuting attorney Tim Madison read from telephone transcripts between the two men that appear to point at Williams as the shooter. Defense attorney Vince Keese said Gaddis might have struggled with the gunman, possibly causing his own death.

According to court testimony, Jaylon Vanderford of Auburn arranged a deal for Flournoy and Williams to buy five pounds of marijuana from Gaddis. Vanderford and his girlfriend, Ashley Russell, met Williams and Flournoy at a Bethlehem gas station around 8:30 p.m. The four drove to Gaddis' Statham house in Vanderford's white Ford Explorer.

Along the way, Williams pulled out a pistol and ordered Jaylon to call Gaddis and convince him to come outside to the car. Gaddis got in the back seat with Flournoy and was taken hostage, too, Madison told the jury.

At some point in the ride, Gaddis hit Flournoy.

Vanderford testified Monday that he heard a pop but was unsure who fired the shot.

Gaddis asked to be taken to the hospital, but Flournoy and Williams insisted they be returned to their blue Monte Carlo at the gas station first, Madison said. When the two men left the Explorer, Vanderford and Russell sped to Barrow Regional Medical Center. Russell, who was seven months pregnant, performed CPR on Gaddis, but he died before reaching the hospital.

Vanderford was on probation for a drug possession charge at the time of the shooting.

Flournoy was arrested in Monroe a few hours after the shooting. While in custody, he spoke to Williams by telephone several times.

Madison read transcripts of the calls in which Flournoy said, "You probably killed that (expletive) when you leaned across and shot him."

"You think?" Williams asked.

Police arrested Williams at his Stone Mountain home about 30 hours after the shooting. They recovered the mangled gun in a culvert near Williams' apartment. The marijuana was never found.

Neither Flournoy nor Williams took the stand.

"There is no proof that Mike did anything but defend himself," Keese said in closing arguments. "There was no gunshot residue testing done on Gaddis' hands. Maybe he struggled with the gun and contributed to his own death."

Both men face charges of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, two counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. The jury can convict each man of separate crimes, if they see fit.

Flournoy is represented by attorney Katie Anderson and Williams by Keese, both are court appointed counsel. The jury will begin deliberations at 9 a.m. today. They will again hear taped phone calls made between Flournoy and Williams after the shooting.