A Jefferson Parish jury could decide Wednesday whether Carey Garrison was defending himself when he shot and killed Anthony “Fat Tony” Williams at the dead end of Buccola Avenue in Marrero after a Martin Luther King Day parade in 2011.
Garrison, 20, is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 17, 2011, death of Williams.
Garrison is not contesting the shooting at the trial in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. But he claims that Williams came to his street to kill him after the parade and that, following a scuffle, he grabbed Williams’ gun and shot him.
Garrison told investigators that he remembered firing only one shot before blacking out, though Williams was shot multiple times and four spent bullet casings were found at the scene.
A witness who lived down the street told Jefferson Parish deputies that she saw Garrison, who was 17 at the time, take the gun from Williams’ waist during a tussle. Garrison later led investigators to the canal where he said he threw the gun, but no weapon was found when the waterway was dredged.
On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Josh Vanderhooft described a far different scenario to jurors, telling them that Garrison pulled Williams’ gun from his hip and gunned him down while Williams pleaded for his life.
Vanderhooft said he and fellow prosecutor Seth Shute would prove the second-degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence, using Garrison’s recorded statements and testimony from several witnesses.
One of those witnesses, however, clammed up on the stand Tuesday after being brought in from a Texas prison.
Marquell Schuster, who was in juvenile detention at the time, told lead investigator Matthew Vazquez days after the shooting that he heard Garrison say he killed Williams while on a speaker phone with a friend.
Vazquez, who is now with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, testified that Schuster reached out to authorities and gave an unequivocal account, but Schuster spent his time on the stand Tuesday telling prosecutors that he either didn’t recall what he said or didn’t say it at all.
Shute almost sought to declare Schuster a hostile witness, but he continued questioning and got the same clipped, negative responses.
Shute closed by asking if fellow inmates took kindly to snitches.
“I don’t know,” Schuster replied.
“Because you’re not snitching today,” Shute offered.
“Nope,” Schuster said.
Mikel Hardaway, the girl down the street who saw the scuffle, testified that she saw only the initial shot before running into her carport, where she heard the subsequent shots.
Hardaway seemed to back away from a statement she gave to investigators that the cries for help came from Williams, saying she couldn’t remember and that she simply thought they could have been from Williams.
Jurors heard two recorded statements Garrison gave to Vazquez, the first from 10 days after the incident, when he surrendered to authorities in Jackson, Mississippi, after fleeing there. The second was made after he was extradited back to Jefferson Parish, when he admitted to the shooting but said it was in self-defense.
Garrison, who sat quietly through the proceedings in a blue shirt and tie, could be heard on the tape Tuesday telling Vazquez that his first statement wasn’t truthful because he was afraid he’d spend the rest of his life in jail “for something I didn’t mean to do.”
Defense attorney Andrew Duffy asked Vazquez if investigators ever questioned what Williams was doing armed just two houses from where Garrison lived.
Vazquez said many people were in the area because of the parade.