Testimony resumed on Tuesday afternoon in the Jasper County Courthouse in the murder trial of 19-year-old Rodarrion Armstrong, who is charged with killing Obrien Lamar Parks, who was 19, on May 28th, 2014 at a home belonging to Parks’ aunt in the 1300 block of North Bowie Street.
Armstrong turned himself in a few hours after the incident, and he was later indicted by the Jasper County Grand Jury on a murder charge.
The case is being heard before District Judge Delinda Gibbs Walker with a jury of ten women and four men, two of which are alternates.
A pattern is beginning to become very apparent to those in the courtroom that the witnesses being called to the stand by Prosecutor Steve Hollis are all telling very different stories which not only contradict each other, but also contradict statements that each of them gave to Jasper Police in the hours following the shooting death of Obrien Parks. In fact, Judge Walker granted a request from the DA to treat one of those as a hostile witness.
Meanwhile, some of those in the courtroom are beginning to wonder if Hollis could charge some, or all, with conspiracy.
So far, only one has testified before the jury that he actually saw Armstrong shoot Parks, and he is Dillon Byron Wallace.
During the morning session of testimony, Hollis called Wallace to the stand and under direct questioning said that he was present at the events that led up to the shooting, and the shooting itself.
Wallace testified that he owned the 20 gauge shotgun that was used to shoot Parks. Wallace said that he generally used the shotgun for squirrel hunting, but he had begun carrying it with him after Parks had recently flashed a handgun at him in Sandy Creek Park.
Wallace said that he was with Armstrong when they went to the house, and Armstrong and Parks began arguing on the front porch. Wallace said Parks went inside the house and then to a side window which was open, and then both Armstrong and Parks continued arguing through the window.
Wallace said Parks was waving a gun around through the window, which turned out to be a toy gun that looked real, and had not been previously disclosed by investigators. Wallace went on to say that Armstrong was standing on the street next to the vehicle they were riding in. He said Armstrong told him to give him the shotgun, so he opened the door and placed it on the street next to the car.
He said Armstrong fired one shot through the window, which struck Parks. He said that the female driver of the car that he was in took off, without Armstrong, but they stopped and picked him up a few blocks away.
However, a later witness, LeeAnn Bowen, contradicted Wallace’s testimony about being inside the car when the shooting took place.
Bowen said that she drove both Rodarrion Armstrong and Dillon Byron Wallace to the home where Parks was killed, and she admitted that she had her 7-year-old sister in the car with her the entire time.
Bowen’s testimony contradicted a statement from earlier in the day from Wallace who said that he remained in the car the entire time, and when Armstrong wanted the shotgun, he said that he opened the door, placed the shotgun on the street next to the car, and then closed the door.
Bowen testified that only she and her little sister were in the car, and that Wallace was outside standing on the street when the confrontation between Armstrong and Parks was taking place.
However, when asked by Hollis if she saw Armstrong shoot Parks, she said no and claimed that she was turned around talking to the child and trying to keep her calm.
One witness who was very clear in his testimony was Dr. John Ralston, Chief Forensic Pathologist at Forensic Medical of Texas, located in the Beaumont area.
Dr. Ralston testified that he performed the autopsy on Parks, and he said Parks had one gunshot wound from a 20 gauge bird-shot shell. Ralston said the pellets struck Parks on the right chest, right neck, right face, and right forehead. According to Ralston, the pellets struck both his jugular vein and the carotid artery, along with the right lung, and the cause of death was extensive hemorrhaging in the chest and neck.
Dr. Ralston also testified that Parks had absolutely no drugs in his system.
Under cross examination by defense attorney Dennis Horn, Ralston testified that Parks was shot at close range.
Also testifying was a technician from the DPS Crime Lab. She said that the lab attempted to obtain a DNA sample from the shotgun to compare it to the alleged shooter, Armstrong, but they were unable to find any DNA on it.
Another witness was Armstrong’s brother, Reginald “Reggie” Wayne Smith II. Smith said that he was not present when Parks was killed, but he heard the gunshot from a different location several blocks away.
Smith also testified that there had been an ongoing feud between his brother and Parks, and he said Armstrong wanted him to bring Parks to him so that they could fight.
The last witness called by the prosecution before the lunch break was Dominique Elam, whose testimony was very difficult to understand. He gave contradictory statements throughout his testimony, and he also contradicted statements that he gave to police when he was interviewed on the day of Parks’ death.
However, one particular witness frustrated everyone in the courtroom, including Judge Walker, and without hesitation she granted a request from the DA to treat the man as a hostile witness. He was 17-year-old Jesus Ontiveros.
During direct questioning by Hollis, Ontiveros said that he was present when Parks was killed, but otherwise he would either not answer questions, or reply with answers that were either incoherent, or didn’t match the question he was asked. At one point, after Judge Walker declared him to be a hostile witness, Hollis asked him point blank if he was in the courtroom high on some type of drug, which Ontiveros denied. Hollis then asked him if he understands that this is a murder trial, to which Ontiveros gave an incoherent answer, and then denied that he knew of anyone being killed.
There were only two times during testimony that Ontiveros made any sense. He specifically stated that he saw Armstrong raise the shotgun and point it towards an empty lot and fire one shot, and he also boasted that in the hours after Parks was killed, he went to Dominique Elam’s house where he said the two of them smoked a very large amount of marijuana.
When passing the witness for cross examination, Hollis said “Mr. Ontiveros, I’d lay off the marijuana if I were you”.
Earlier in the day, Judge Walker ejected two women from the courtroom after a cell phone repeatedly rang out loud, despite specific instructions from the court that electronic devices are to be silenced. KJAS News later learned that one of the women made an obscene gesture toward the judge as she was leaving the courtroom, and a bailiff had a counseling session with her.