Updated Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 3:21 p.m. CDT
Updated Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 12:58 p.m. CDT
Tyler testified that it was not unusual for Masters to borrow a gun from him, because the two often shot guns together.
Tyler said when he saw the report of the arrest, he became concerned and wiped his guns down so they would not have fingerprints on them. He then buried the two pistols on property Tyler's father owned.
Tyler said police searched his trailer two weeks after Young's body was found.
Updated Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 10:06 a.m. CDT
Yesterday, Michael Moses, a witness was being questioned about his prior burglary conviction by Ms. Lacy when he said Ms. Lacy had represented him in the burglary case.
The court appointed Tyler defense attorney Brett Harrison to question Lacy and her co-counsel Melvin Thompson about their ability to be objective in the case.
Although Lacy expressed some concern about her ability to question Moses freely, the court ruled that there was no immediate conflict and that Lacy could continue to represent Masters.
The testimony came in the first day of the cold case murder trial for Shams Emil Masters, 34, in the Smith County 114th District Court, and was a response to a question from defense attorney LaJuanda Lacy.
Michael Moses described William Thomas Young II, whom Masters is accused of killing, as being “like a brother” to him, and said he and Young often sold drugs together. Ms. Lacy asked Moses, who was known as “Little Mike” within the drug dealing community if Young had money on him when he was killed in February 1999. Moses responded he did not know.
Masters, who was extradited from a federal prison in Colorado where he was serving time for seven bank robberies, faces up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of murder, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Whitney Tharpe said. Ms. Tharpe said Judge Christi Kennedy would make the decision about whether to stack the murder sentence in with Masters' federal sentence.
In February 1999, Masters, then 20, was arrested for the murder of 18-year-old Young, whose body was found face down in a grove of trees on Cedarwood Circle in the Woodlands Estates subdivision in southern Smith County.
“We arrested our suspect back in 1999, and a grand jury did indict him, but upon further investigation, the case was dismissed by the former District Attorney (Jack Skeen Jr.) due to insufficient evidence,” Smith County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon said in April.
Detectives determined Young died of a gunshot wound to the head several days before his body was found. According to a Tyler Morning Telegraph story in 1999, the original arrest warrant affidavit stated Masters believed Young stole several hundred dollars from his home during a Super Bowl party. The original warrant said a friend of Masters said Young would “get what was coming to him.”
Other articles from the time of the homicide indicate the victim was indicted for selling crack to an undercover Tyler police office and was wanted on several felony warrants. The investigation also revealed blood in a vehicle that Masters was seen driving at the time.
In her opening statements to the jury, Ms. Tharpe said Young often hung out with people “heavily involved in the drug culture” inside a residence in the 4000 block of Aberdeen Street in southeast Tyler. She said that several nights before Young's body was found, that a witness saw Masters and Young drive off in a 1989 Toyota Camry belonging to Aaron Vaughn with a bag of crack.
“Masters and the bag of crack came back — Young did not,” she said.
Another witness said he loaned a gun to Masters after Masters came by his home with Young on the night of the shooting.
Smith County Assistant District Attorney Leslie McClain is serving as co-counsel with Ms. Tharpe.
A former Smith County detective, Jason Waller, testified he came to the home on Aberdeen Street to question Vaughn about Young's death. Vaughn first said that he was alone in the home and last saw Young alive on Feb. 8. But after Waller saw movement inside, he asked to be allowed into Vaughn's home.
Inside the residence, Waller found several other people, including Masters in a locked bedroom, who said he last saw Young alive on Feb. 15. But Waller testified that after Masters spoke with Vaughn, that Masters' story changed, and he said he last saw Young alive on Feb. 8.
“He's my baby, my first born — I wasn't expecting that,” Mrs. Young said, crying as she testified about the day she was told of her son's death.
Defense Attorney Melvin Thompson argued to the jury, “There is no physical evidence that connects my client to this crime.”
He said that the owner of the car used in the murder, Aaron Vaughn, “is just as involved as anyone else.” Thompson told the jury that at the conclusion of the evidence that there will be “no doubt in your mind that he (Masters) didn't do it.”