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Testimony begins in man's drug deal/murder trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Jan. 30, 2008, Roscoe Gordon bundled about a half-pound of high-grade, "cush" marijuana into his gold Acura and set course for Stone Mountain from his home near Greenville, S.C.

He also bought a box of ammo for his .357 magnum, which he handed to his childhood pal in the passenger seat, Dedric Thompson. Both Thompson and the gun were there for protection, two prerequisites Gordon said he leaned on for major drug deals.

"Just in case something go wrong," Gordon said.

According to his testimony, things went very wrong.

Gordon, 31, told jurors Tuesday morning he and his friend were ambushed by two men -- including a man he knew only as "Low", whom he'd met at a Gwinnett hotel party days prior -- at the Highland Grove apartment complex near U.S. 78. Gordon had swapped numbers with "Low" and agreed to sell the potent "greenery" for $3,500, he testified.

But "Low" had other plans in mind, as he slid with another man into the car's backseat, Gordon said.

"Only words was said was, 'What's up,' 'What's up,' and they started letting shots go," Gordon testified.

Asked to identify "Low," Gordon adjusted the sleeve of his vanilla sweater, pointed and gave a long, unblinking stare to Malcolm Johnson, 21.

Johnson is accused of fatally shooting Thompson, 28, and shooting Gordon in the wrist, face and back of his head. On trial for murder, aggravated assault and weapons possession, Johnson faces life in prison.

Gordon testified he stumbled to a nearby apartment and asked a child to call 911. He later provided investigators with Johnson's moniker and his phone number.

Johnson's defense attorney, Beverly Taylor, asserted during opening statements that the two shooting victims had been scheming to rob Johnson and his cronies for the drug money. To her point, evidence will show that gunpowder was found on Thompson's hands, she said.

In her cross-examination with Gordon, Taylor questioned the logic that he went unarmed to a drug deal.

"You want us to believe that you're not arming yourself?" Taylor said. "You're gonna leave it up to somebody else to protect you?"

Gordon stuck to his story in subsequent testimony.

Earlier, apartment complex resident Carol Szkutek testified she heard "three pops ... the first two muted" and watched two men screech away in a gold Honda the afternoon of the slaying. She called 911 when "a guy, staggering around" caught her attention.

Testimony is expected to resume today.

Johnson's alleged accomplices -- Rosby E. Cobb, of Decatur, and Dalva Ray Wilson, of Stone Mountain -- await their respective trials at the Gwinnett County Jail. Both are charged with murder and aggravated assault. Wilson also faces weapons possession charges.

Records show that Gordon was never charged.