Murder suspect found guilty

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

After two days of trial, a jury has found Jacory Townsend guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Xavier Thomas last year.

Townsend, 25, of Brundidge, allegedly shot Thomas, also of Brundidge, multiple times while Thomas was parked at Walding Circle in Brundidge.

After hearing testimony from law enforcement officers, two eye witnesses and medical examiners, the jury deliberated for approximately three hours before reaching its verdict that Townesend was guilty of both first-degree murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

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“The family is very appreciative of all the efforts of law enforcement and certainly for those witnesses willing to come forward and testify,” said Josh Wilson, assistant district attorney. “They’re also thankful to the jury and their service over two long days of trial. This is a step toward bringing closure in this tragedy (the family) had to deal with.

According to medical examiner Dr. Stephen Boudreau of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, nine bullets hit Thomas, seven of which actually penetrated his body. Investigators also testified that they found nine nine-millimeter shell casings around the vehicle.

Bernard Still, who said he was sitting in the vehicle with Thomas when the shooting occurred, testified that Townsend got out of the car and began shooting into the passenger side at Thomas.

Cynthia Jackson, who said she saw the shooting from her porch at her apartment at Walding Circle, also identified Townsend as the shooter.

Sherri Mazur, defense for Townsend, challenged the testimonies of both witnesses during the trial as well as the procedure of Brundidge police in their investigations.

She asked Still if he changed his story when Brundidge Police Chief Moses Davenport threatened to charge him with murder. He said he did change his story, but only began telling the truth at that point.

She also demonstrated that Jackson had picked Townsend out of a photo lineup based on his “body structure” and not on his face.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that that’s who it was,” Wilson said. “It was the defense’s strategy to try to discredit those two witnesses. I don’t think either one of them ever wavered from their identifications. You have a19 year-old man in a car with gun being fired at him and a lady sitting on her front porch witnessing the event. Nobody called to tell them to be paying very close attention to the guy about to get out of this car and start firing this gun. It took a lot of courage from them to testify. Without their positive identification it would have become difficult to prove Townsend pulled the trigger. The physical evidence showed what happened, but who perpetrated it was really down to their witness testimony.”

No date has yet been set for sentencing. The jury found Townsend guilty of both first-degree murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. The first-degree murder conviction is a Class A Felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison and the conviction of shooting into an unoccupied vehicle is a Class C Felony punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison.