The Norman Transcript

September 18, 2013

Jury could begin deliberation today in murder trial

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — District Judge Tracy Schumacher told jurors to expect to be sequestered today until they reach deliberation in the ongoing first-degree murder trial of Russell Lee Blackwood, 41, of Purcell.

About six testimonies were given Tuesday, including that of Shannon Davis, Blackwood’s ex-girlfriend and mother to one of his children. Davis was jailed Friday, away from the view of jurors, after part of her testimony for direct contempt of court.

When Davis appeared for the rest of her testimony Tuesday, she was escorted by a Cleveland County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Davis’ testimony of certain events did not coincide with others’ testimonies, including that of law enforcement.

One of the most notable differences in testimonies was in regard to events leading to the shooting death of Gary Norton Sr., 55, of Lexington. Norton was in his home when he was shot and killed during a drive-by shooting.

Blackwood and another Purcell man, Richard Dean Lansdale, 38, are accused of killing him last year on Easter Sunday.

Josh Norton and his ex-girlfriend lived with Norton Sr. at the time, but neither were home when the shooting occurred. The night before the shooting, events occurred involving Davis that led to Josh Norton staying with a friend instead, according to his testimony Friday.

Davis said Tuesday that she had called Norton Sr. the day before the shooting, April 7, 2012, several times, adding that during some of those calls, it was possible she was upset.

Aside from mothering Blackwood’s child, Davis was also Josh Norton’s ex-wife and had a child with him, as well. She said since Norton Sr. was the grandfather of that child, she was close to him and talked to him often.

According to Josh Norton’s testimony, Davis was calling Norton Sr. that day trying to get a hold of Josh, then lured him over to her house under the pretenses that she was going to harm herself. When he arrived, there was no sign of emergency, Josh said.

Davis testified Tuesday that she did not call Norton and ask him to come over to her house. He just showed up, tried to kiss her and touched her “very inappropriately” on her leg, and she thought he was going to try to force himself on her. She then called Blackwood.

“My first thought was to call Russell; that’s who protected me,” Davis said when asked why she called him and not the police.

When she tried getting Josh Norton to talk on the phone with Blackwood and he refused to, she put the call on speakerphone; both Norton and Davis testified that Blackwood said Norton better be gone by the time he got there.

When Norton left and Blackwood arrived, Davis said she was upset and probably over-animated and acting hysterical because she was under the influence of Xanex.

When Blackwood’s defense attorney Charles Douglas questioned Davis, he asked if Blackwood would be angry or jealous if Norton was at her home. She said yes. When asked if she lured Norton to her home to get Blackwood to come back home to her, she said no.

Prior to that, Blackwood had not been at her house for a while because Davis said he wanted her to get sober. Davis said he had taken their baby and she knew he was staying at his wife, Julie’s, house.

Another mismatch in testimonies was that of Davis’ and several OSBI agents. On several occasions, she said case investigator Agent Marvin Akers called her to ask her questions.

Davis also said Akers came to her house and she let him search the house, thinking he wanted to look for the gun used in the shooting.

Both Akers and Special Agent Francia Thompson testified that they did not search Davis’ home. When they went to her home, it was to pick up what she said was evidence, which included a camera as well as a pair of pants she said Blackwood wore the night of the shooting.

Thompson testified Tuesday that Davis went into her home, got the items and gave them to her and Akers.

Aside from Davis and Thompson, others who testified Tuesday included Dr. Marc Harrison, a forensic pathologist with the Medical Examiner’s Office; Joe Lahue, a retired OSBI crime scene investigator who worked the case; Terrance Higgs, a firearms examiner in the OSBI lab; and Muriel Correa, an OSBI criminalist with the trace evidence unit.

Information of note from the testimonies included:

· Harrison confirmed that Norton Sr.’s death was caused by a gunshot wound to the head and the wound was indicative of the bullet being unstable, meaning it could have hit something else prior to entering his head. He also confirmed the matter of death was homicide, based on the wound to the body and the crime scene.

· Lahue confirmed evidence documented and recovered from the crime scenes, including bullet defects and fragments at the home as well as a shirt, gloves and shell casings at Purcell Lake. Evidence also was submitted from gunshot residue kits used in Richard Lansdale’s car.

· Thompson also talked about her work at the crime scene and measuring the trajectory of the bullets. She said she determined that the bullets were shot from north to south traveling left to right, consistent with someone driving through the back alley and shooting at the home.

· Higgs confirmed that many of the bullet fragments and casings recovered throughout the investigation were fired from the same gun. Three bullet fragments could not be confirmed because parts of the full metal jacket did not remain intact over the lead core. Higgs also said every firearm manufactured will leave its own unique markings on casings or bullets, part of which allows them to determine whether they were discharged from the same firearm.

· Correa was unable to finish her testimony Tuesday, but so far, she has confirmed that the pants given to OSBI agents by Davis, who she testified were Blackwood’s, had gunshot residue on them. All of the test areas dabbed by the gun residue kit in Lansdale’s car also tested positive for gun residue.

Defense attorneys will begin Correa’s cross examination at 9:45 a.m. today in Schumacher’s court room.