WACO (October 31, 2012)—In a dramatic development Wednesday morning, capital murder defendant Ricky Donnell Cummings took the witness stand and said he did not kill anybody.
Cummings is charged in the March 2011 deaths of Keenan Hubert, 20, and Tyeus Sneed, 17, both of whom died in a hail of bullets as they sat inside a car parked at the Lakewood Villas apartment complex.
Marion Bible, then 22, and Deontrae Majors, then 20, were wounded in the shooting.
Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, claim that Cummings killed the two men in retaliation for the April 2010 murder of Emuel Bowers III, 21, who was shot as he sat in his car at the intersection of Rose and McKeen Streets.
Prosecutors say Hubert and Sneed were killed because Cummings suspected Hubert was involved in Bowers' murder.
But Cummings testified Wednesday morning he was not at the Lakewood Villas apartments on the night the two men were killed.
Cummings did admit he routinely carried a gun but said he never shot anyone.
Cummings was on the stand for about 15 minutes under direct examination by defense attorneys.
When defense lawyers passed the witness to prosecutors for cross examination, the lawyers went to the bench and told Judge Ralph Strother in order to maintain consistency in Cummings testimony, they felt the cross examination should wait until Thursday.
Strother already had announced he would recess court Wednesday afternoon to allow a juror to attend a funeral.
One attorney who has been in the court gallery all week said the appearance of Cummings on the stand probably means the defense is close to the end of its case.
Earlier Wednesday the trial came to an abrupt halt while the judge admonished the jury after he learned that one of the jurors had been sending messages during the trial.
Judge Ralph Strother cleared the defendant, the witnesses and all visitors from the third floor of the McLennan County Courthouse Wednesday morning and was with the jury members in the jury room.
A female juror, known only as Juror #5, had been sending messages during trial, according to Strother.
Strother revealed one of the messages said, "It's an interesting day. I think I'm learning a whole new language. This will be a fun day for sure. Here we go again ... an intense day. I hope this gets interesting".
The juror was not dismissed.
Strother said he didn't think the messaging influenced the juror or any others and she has promised not to post again.
He said he does not think she has been prejudiced, so the judge will allow the defense to continue calling witnesses.