Opening statements, testimony begin in Savannah murder trial for five men

Updated: Oct. 24, 2018 at 5:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Two murders, alleged conspiracy, and gang affiliation were all the focus of a trial underway Wednesday in Savannah.

Five men are facing charges - three connected by police to a murder in 2013 - while investigators tied the other two to a 2015 murder.

Opening statements took up the majority of the day, hearing from the state and the lawyers of the accused as they laid out what jurors can expect to hear over the next few weeks.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon led off with leading jurors through the hierarchy and complexities of the Bloods Gang- the criminal organization all five defendants are allegedly a part of. The state contends was that alleged affiliation and activity that led to the armed robbery, turned deadly shooting of Rebecca Foley in 2013, and eventually the 2015 murder of James Pastures.

Matt Breedon, Chief Assistant District Attorney, said toward the end of his opening statement to jurors, “What you really have to pay attention to, follow two simple things. You can see all of the evidence; the gang, and the gun. If you follow the people who are associated with the gang when they have the gun and when they used it, in addition to what they’re saying, you get all of them linked to each and every crime.”

When it was the defense’s turn to address the jury, there was a clear attempt to separate clients from at least one of the two crimes. One attorney noted how much information the state presented in the opening statement, saying it was the longest he’d ever seen.

“We got two things here. We got the murder of Rebecca Foley, and we’ve got the murder of James Pastures two years later. Why are these being tried together? What’s the nexus here? Why is that? And I’ll tell you ladies and gentleman, I think and I believe the evidence will show the state’s intention here is to blind you and have you look at the forest and get overwhelmed by the number of trees, and ignore each individual tree," said Joey Turner, Attorney for Shacqueal Sanders, one of the five defendants and one of two charged with the murder of James Pastures.

One thing heard consistently from defense attorneys was a reminder for jurors that what the state presented was not evidence, and to only consider what is said on the stand and look at evidence admitted over the course of the next few weeks.

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