0

Testimony continues today in Lawrenceville murder case

LAWRENCEVILLE - Prosecutors say Chris Roesser lashed out over a disagreement about the price of two pounds of marijuana, killing 25-year-old Keith Price with two bullets - one through his wrist, the other his chest.

But Roesser's attorney claims the accused murderer was attacked first, and that the squabble started over the price of a Sony PlayStation 3.

Opening statements in Roesser's murder trial Tuesday painted two varying accounts of what happened the night of Dec. 20, 2006, in the parking lot of Lawrenceville's Averitt Express Inc., a trucking company where Roesser worked as a night-shift mechanic.

Roesser, 26, of Lawrenceville, is charged with murder, felony murder and drugs and weapons possession for allegedly killing Price, of Snellville, in a drug deal gone awry. In court Tuesday, he wore gold-rimmed eyeglasses, a gray dress shirt and military-short hair.

David Fife, deputy chief assistant district attorney, said the two men were brought together by a mutual friend, Roger Epstein, who took Price to buy two pounds of marijuana from Roesser during his lunch break at the trucking company.

Roesser got in the backseat of Epstein's Chevy Caprice, where he argued with Price about the $950 per pound cost of the drugs. Price reached into the backseat and grabbed Roesser, before Roesser exited the vehicle and fired shots into the car, Fife said.

At the scene, police found four shell casings, a pair of glasses like those Roesser wears and a black toy handgun. An employee recovered "two wads of cash" totaling $2,000, Fife said.

Johnny Moore, Roesser's attorney, said his client was trying to sell the men a then-rare PlayStation 3 for $900 when violence broke out.

"The evidence is that Keith Price was actually the aggressor in this case," Moore said.

Epstein, the witness, testified he took Price to buy marijuana, then whisked him to Gwinnett Medical Center after Roesser exited his car and opened fire. Epstein said he didn't see either man with a gun.

Moore called the witness' credibility into question, hinting Epstein admitted to his uncle he tossed the money and toy gun from his vehicle.

"I have no idea," said Epstein, 26. "It happened so fast."

Roesser disappeared following the shooting. He was arrested in February 2007 on the back porch of a friend's Buford residence after a fugitive task force received a tip regarding his whereabouts.

Fife said testimony in the case could conclude as early as today.