A woman once charged as an accessory in the 2017 slaying of two Baker men told a jury Thursday that her then-boyfriend, a "paranoid" William Bottoms Jr., shot the men without warning after the four of them had purchased heroin.

Megan Marie Gaylord testified at Bottoms’ second-degree murder trial that she was driving on Plank Road between Baker and Zachary with her hand on Bottoms’ knee sometime before 3 a.m. on June 1, 2017, when Bottoms suddenly shot Dedrick Dewayne Williams, 23, and Mohamed Sead Hussain, 29, as the two men sat in the back seat of Hussain’s car.

Gaylord, 29, of Greenwell Springs, said there were no arguments among anyone in the car prior to the shooting.

“I didn’t realize what was happening until I heard the first shot,” she said, noting that Bottoms first shot Williams as he sat behind Bottoms. She said Bottoms then shot Hussain, who was sitting behind her.

“I froze pretty much. I just kept driving,” Gaylord said while being questioned by East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings.

Bottoms, 29, of Greenwell Springs, sat emotionless during her testimony. Gaylord spoke softly, sniffling from time to time.

Cummings had told the jury Wednesday that Williams was shot twice, and Hussain was shot three times. Both were shot in the head.

Gaylord testified she never looked into the back seat after the shots were fired, but she recalled hearing Hussain struggling to breathe after he was shot the first time.

She said she also remembered hearing Williams and Hussain talking to each other before the shots rang out, but she didn’t know what they were discussing.

After the men were shot and while she was driving back to Bottoms’ Greenwell Springs home, Gaylord said Bottoms kept asking her, “Did you hear what they were saying? Did you hear what they were saying?”

She told the jury that Bottoms had taken methamphetamine at his house that night before Hussain and Williams picked her and Bottoms up from the house to buy heroin in Baker. Bottoms was armed with a revolver, she added.

Gaylord added that Bottoms had previously said to her that he was told someone had ordered a hit on him.

“He didn’t know who he could trust and who he couldn’t trust,” she said. “He was paranoid all the time.”

Gaylord testified that, after she and Bottoms returned to his house around 3 a.m. with the bodies still in the back seat, she and Bottoms went inside and consumed drugs and Bottoms wiped down the car with bleach while they waited for one of his parents to wake up.

Gaylord said Bottoms told his mother he had borrowed a car from a friend and needed to return it, so his mother followed behind as Gaylord drove the car and Bottoms sat in the front.

Jacqueline Bottoms testified Thursday she did not learn of the killings until East Baton Rouge Parish authorities showed up at her house on June 22, 2017.

“Yes, I was in shock. That’s my son,” she said.

Bottoms’ mother said she did not get out of her car when Gaylord and her son arrived at a gravel road off La. 37 to drop off the car they were riding in.

Gaylord said William Bottoms apologized to her before they dropped the car off.

“He said he was sorry I had to be there in the first place,” she testified.

Gaylord also explained why she initially lied to detectives when they questioned her about the double-homicide.

“Because I was in love with Willie,” she said, adding that she was hoping they could remain together.

When Bottoms’ attorney, Jarvis Antwine, pressed Gaylord about the lies she told authorities, she said she did so to protect Bottoms.

“I didn’t want it to be real,” she said. “Admitting it made it real.”

Earlier Thursday, a detective testified that a bed sheet covering the victims’ bodies when they were discovered in St. Helena Parish matched sheets seized several weeks later from Bottoms’ bedroom.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office Lt. Scott Henning, the lead detective on the case, told the jury the sheets confiscated from Bottoms’ room on June 22, 2017, were an "exact match" to the sheet that was draped over the bodies of Williams and Hussain.

The queen size flat sheet that covered the bodies in the back seat of the car in the rural community of Grangeville bore the same manufacturer's number and lot number as the single queen size flat sheet and two queen size fitted sheets located in Bottoms' bedroom closet, Henning said.

Bottoms is standing trial on two counts of second-degree murder. Prosecutors last year dismissed an accessory charge against Gaylord.

Gaylord is still charged with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, which dates to 2015 and involves her then-3-year-old child, who had tested positive for high levels of cocaine.

Bottoms' twin brother, Lawrence Bottoms, was fatally shot in April in Mississippi after he pulled a gun on Hancock County sheriff's deputies trying to serve a warrant on him out of East Baton Rouge Parish for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.