1

1 IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF FLORIDA, IN AND FOR MARION COUNTY
2
CASE NO. 2011-CF-3085-A-X
3

4 STATE OF FLORIDA,

5 Plaintiff,
vs.
6
JAMES EDWARD BANNISTER,
7
Defendant.
8 _______________________/

9

10 *** EXCERPTED TRANSCRIPT ***

11 State and Defense Opening Statements
PAGES 1 - 47
12

13
HELD BEFORE: THE HONORABLE WILLARD POPE
14 DATE TAKEN: October 27, 2017
TIME: 8:35 a.m. - 4:52 p.m.
15 PLACE: Marion County Courthouse
110 NW 1st Avenue
16 Ocala, Florida 34475

17

18 This cause came on to be heard at the time and place

19 aforesaid, when and where the following proceedings were

20 reported by:

21 Karla Layfield, RMR
Kerr & Associates
22 614 North Sinclair Avenue
Tavares, Florida 32778
23 (352) 742-3144

24

25
2

1 A P P E A R A N C E S:

2
ROBIN ARNOLD, ESQUIRE
3 REBECCA FLETCHER, ESQUIRE
OF: Office of the State Attorney
4 110 NW First Avenue, Suite 5000
Ocala, Florida 34470
5 Attorneys for State of Florida

6
TERENCE M. LENAMON, ESQUIRE
7 245 SE 1st St., Suite 404
Miami, Florida 33131
8 terry@lenamonlaw.com
Attorney for Defendant
9

10 TANIA Z. ALAVI, ESQUIRE
Alavi, Bird & Pozzuto, PA
11 108 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 600
Ocala, Florida 34475
12 talavi@abplegal.com
Attorney for Defendant
13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25
3

1 I N D E X

2 OPENING STATEMENTS:

3 By the State of Florida 4

4 By Defense 28

5 Certificate of Reporter 47

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25
4

1 ****

2 MS. FLETCHER: May it please the Court,

3 counsel.

4 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE

5 MS. FLETCHER: Good morning.

6 This case is going to take you back to the

7 summer of 2011. It's a summer where Renadia Wise

8 had completed her second grade of elementary

9 school and was getting ready go into her third

10 grade.

11 Renadia Wise is eight-years old. She lives

12 in a home on the northeast side of town with her

13 mother, Jocalyn Gray and her two brothers, Yubuka

14 who is three and JJ who is about to turn two.

15 Also in that home lives a man who is her

16 mom's boyfriend who she considers her step-dad.

17 On most summer days Renadia goes to the Kid's

18 Academy. The Kid's Academy is a daycare facility

19 that takes after school -- school-age kids after

20 school and during the summer. It's also the

21 place where Jocalyn Gray, Nadia's mother works.

22 Nadia, as her family calls her, on this

23 particular week was spending time with her dad,

24 Renaldo Wise. But on this day, on August 4th,

25 she wants to come home because her and her mom
5

1 had been invited to a birthday party.

2 So when her mom gets off work, she comes and

3 picks up Nadia at her dad's house, and they go to

4 a party at Brandie Lane's house. Brandie Lane is

5 a friend of Jocalyn's. She has a daughter who is

6 turning three, and they are having a birthday

7 party and family and friends are coming over.

8 While they are there, Nadia plays with the

9 other kids and Brandie Lane does Jocalyn's hair.

10 She gets extensions put in her hair. She gets

11 her hair long and curly, and she also gets eye

12 lashes put on.

13 They leave the party around ten o'clock, and

14 they stop on the way home. They go by LaShawna's

15 house. LaShawna is Jocalyn's sister, Nadia's

16 aunt. They stop there because Jocalyn needed to

17 pick up a breathing machine that she needed for

18 one of the boys.

19 After they leave there, they go home. It's

20 getting kinda late. The boys are put to bed.

21 Nadia is laying on the couch, and she is kinda

22 dozing. She's not really quite asleep, but

23 dozing off and on a little bit. She hears her

24 mom talking on the phone. Her mom is talking to

25 her step-dad.
6

1 And soon Nadia learns that they need to

2 leave the house and go to grandma's house,

3 grandma may need to go to the hospital. So the

4 boys are sleeping. They are picked up and

5 carried and put in the back seat of Jocalyn's

6 white SUV. Nadia gets in the front seat, and

7 Jocalyn is driving.

8 Now, Nadia's grandmother is Bridget Gray.

9 She lives on the northwest end of town, nine and

10 a half miles away from where Nadia lives with her

11 family. On the drive there her mom is talking on

12 the phone with LaShawna. And her mom is also

13 calling her mother, Nadia's grandmother, Bridget

14 Gray who is not able to get a hold of her.

15 Now, you will learn that Bridget Gray lives

16 with two children. They are the children of her

17 fiance, Willie Hill. The children are Cordarrian

18 Hill who is eight-years-old. He's just days away

19 from his ninth birthday. And Cordarica Hill who

20 is six.

21 As I said, as they are driving there,

22 Jocalyn is on the phone with LaShawna and also

23 trying to call her mom. They get to grandma's

24 house and there's no cars outside. No cars in

25 the driveway. The grandma usually parks in the
7

1 garage.

2 They pull up in the driveway. Jocalyn gets

3 out of the car. She goes up to the front door

4 and knocks on the door. Nobody answers. It

5 appears that grandma is not home. Jocalyn gets

6 back in the car. She calls grandma, and Nadia

7 hears grandma say, "I'm at the store." So "Joc"

8 decides she is going to drive down the road. And

9 she drives around for a little bit and she calls

10 LaShawna again.

11 While she is talking to LaShawna she starts

12 heading back to Grandma Bridget's house. When

13 they get back to Grandma Bridget's house, Nadia

14 and "Joc" notice that the door, the front door is

15 cracked open. That's not the way it was when

16 they had left earlier. The door was closed.

17 Jocalyn tells LaShawna, I will call you back, and

18 hangs up the phone.

19 And about this time JJ wakes up and he

20 starts crying for his mom. So "Joc" asked Nadia,

21 "Can you hold JJ, calm him down while I go inside

22 and see what's going on with Grandma Bridget?"

23 Nadia puts JJ in her lap, and they are sitting in

24 the front seat.

25 Jocalyn gets out of the car. She starts
8

1 walking toward the front door that's cracked

2 open. What Nadia can't see is that just inside

3 the house behind the door is a man, a man who has

4 a gun. As Nadia watches her mother push the door

5 open, Nadia sees a flash. She hears a gunshot.

6 Her mom's body falls to the ground.

7 Nadia is frightened. Her brother is crying.

8 She puts her hand over his mouth and she ducks

9 down. She is afraid that whoever is in the house

10 with the gun will come out and find her and her

11 brothers. She sees somebody look out the window.

12 She can't really see who it is. It's kind of a

13 shadow.

14 Now, she sees her mom's body being drug into

15 the house. Nadia doesn't know what to do. She

16 sits in the car with her two brothers and she

17 waits. Soon she sees fire coming from her

18 grandma's bedroom. She can see the fire in

19 between the two -- in between the curtains as she

20 looks in the window. She knows now that the

21 house is on fire.

22 She is very frightened. But she is afraid

23 if she opens the car door the light will come on,

24 and whoever is in inside will see her and her

25 brothers in the car, and they will come out and
9

1 get them. She sits and she waits.

2 The children are probably sitting in the car

3 for about 20 or 30 minutes before help finally

4 arrives. One of the neighbors saw the fire and

5 called 911. They come over and get the children

6 out of the car. Deputies arrive. Firefighters

7 arrive. Detectives arrive.

8 Eight-year-old Nadia Wise sits in the back

9 of a patrol car and talks to Detective Clint

10 Smith and tells him what she had just witnessed.

11 But what Nadia can't possibly know at the time

12 that the man behind the door, the man with the

13 gun who shot her mother and drug her body into

14 the house was the man she considered her

15 step-dad, that man right there, James Bannister.

16 Now, today and next week, you will hear

17 testimony and see evidence about the night that

18 James Bannister murdered four people. Bridget

19 Gray was fifty-two-years-old. Jocalyn Gray was

20 twenty-seven-years-old. Cordarrian Hill was

21 eight-years-old. Cordarica Hill was

22 six-years-old.

23 Now, you are going to learn about the events

24 of that day and the timeline of how things

25 happened. What you're going to hear is that
10

1 Jocalyn went to work that morning at the Kid's

2 Academy. The director of Kid's Academy is

3 Melissa Scott. She is a good friend of

4 Jocalyn's. They go to church together. And she

5 also knows the defendant, James Bannister.

6 Melissa will tell you that James Bannister

7 had been acting differently lately. His demeanor

8 had changed. She will also tell you on that

9 particular day, on August 4th, something was just

10 off with "Joc." "Joc" had told her --

11 MR. LENAMON: Objection, hearsay.

12 MS. FLETCHER: Not going for the truth of

13 the matter asserted, Your Honor.

14 THE COURT: Well, sustained.

15 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

16 MS. FLETCHER: Melissa Scott will tell you

17 she had a conversation with "Joc." "Joc" left

18 the daycare facility when she got off work, and

19 she went to pick up Nadia. They go to the party.

20 They leave there about 10:00 o'clock. They go to

21 LaShawna's house and pick up the breathing

22 machine, and then they go home.

23 And while they are at home -- you will hear

24 that there's a text message that comes in from

25 Bridget Gray's telephone to the defendant, James
11

1 Bannister's telephone. That text message is at

2 11:19 p.m. And what you're also going to learn

3 about Bridget Gray, she has two phones, two

4 cellphones.

5 This particular text message comes from the

6 cellphone that starts with the phone number 229.

7 The text message says, "Can you watch the kid's

8 so "Joc" can take me to the hospital?" Remember,

9 Bridget is Jocalyn's mother. So after that text

10 message goes through to James Bannister's

11 telephone, James Bannister starts trying to call

12 "Joc." There's a little bit of phone tag going

13 on. He finally gets "Joc" on the phone about

14 11:35.

15 That is the phone call where Nadia heard her

16 mom talking to her step-dad on the phone. That's

17 the phone call that gets Jocalyn to leave her

18 house and head to Bridget's house.

19 MR. LENAMON: Objection, hearsay.

20 THE COURT: Well, ladies and gentlemen,

21 opening statement is an opportunity for the

22 attorneys to tell you what evidence they think

23 you are going to hear. If that does not come in,

24 then the attorneys are giving you that

25 information at their peril. Your objection is
12

1 overruled.

2 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

3 MS. FLETCHER: You will learn that the

4 time -- they start going over to grandma's house,

5 and she was talking to LaShawna on the phone.

6 She also -- after she gets to Bridget's house,

7 and sees that she is not there, there's a phone

8 call at 12:04 where Bridget says she is at the

9 store.

10 That phone call comes from Bridget's second

11 phone, the other phone, not the 229 phone where

12 Jocalyn -- where Nadia had heard her

13 grandmother's voice saying that she was at the

14 store.

15 When Bridget -- sorry. "Joc" drives down

16 the road, and she is talking to LaShawna on the

17 telephone. When she gets back to the house and

18 tells LaShawna, "I will call you right back,"

19 that time is 12:19 when that phone call ends.

20 Let me back up a little bit.

21 At 11:41, after "Joc" had called LaShawna

22 telling her she was concerned because she got

23 this message that her mom may need to go to the

24 hospital, at 11:41, LaShawna called her mother.

25 That phone call also comes -- is on Bridget's
13

1 second phone, not the 229 number.

2 LaShawna speaks with her mom, and her mom

3 doesn't say anything to her about having to go to

4 the hospital. In fact, her mom tells her, "I

5 need you to come over here --"

6 MR. LENAMON: Objection, hearsay.

7 THE COURT: Overruled. Ladies and

8 gentlemen, I'm going to remind you of two things:

9 One, what the attorneys tell you is not evidence.

10 It's telling you what they think the evidence is

11 going to show.

12 Again, if they tell you something that you

13 don't hear because it doesn't come in, then they

14 are telling you that at their peril. Go ahead.

15 MS. FLETCHER: Thank you.

16 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

17 MS. FLETCHER: Bridget tells LaShawna, "I

18 want you to come over to my house. There's

19 someone here who wants to see you." LaShawna

20 said, "Who is it? Who wants to see me?" Bridget

21 won't tell her who it is. She is, like, just

22 come over here, someone wants to talk to you.

23 LaShawna says "I don't have any gas to come

24 over there." Her mom says, "I will give you gas

25 money." But LaShawna doesn't go over there. And
14

1 then LaShawna ends up talking to Jocalyn and

2 learns that Jocalyn is heading over there.

3 Going back to the phone call where LaShawna

4 tells -- where LaShawna is talking to Jocalyn and

5 Jocalyn says, "I will call you right back." That

6 phone call ended at 12:19. And there was a

7 couple minutes in the car where JJ is crying,

8 Nadia is holding JJ, and then Jocalyn walks to

9 the front door where she is murdered. That's

10 going to take place at approximately 12:21,

11 August 5th, a little after midnight.

12 You will hear from the first deputies that

13 arrive at the scene. That when they get there,

14 the fire is so bad they can't get into the house

15 but they go around the back of the house just to

16 see if there's any way to get in or any way to

17 help any people that might be inside.

18 And they notice that there's a window open

19 in the back of the house. There weren't any

20 firefighters there yet. The window is a large

21 window, big enough for a person to escape out of.

22 The screen had been taken off the window and laid

23 beside on the ground.

24 You will listen to testimony from the

25 firefighters who came to the scene. And the
15

1 first firefighter on the scene, and in the house,

2 is Robert Graff. What you're going to learn is

3 that the first thing that they do when they get

4 to a fire, especially where they heard there's

5 probably victims inside, they do a primary

6 search.

7 A primary search is where they go in the

8 house and they look for any people that are in

9 the house so they can bring them out to safety.

10 Robert Graff goes in the front door. And

11 right into the front door, into the front room he

12 finds the body of Jocalyn Gray. She has a bullet

13 hole in her forehead, her blood at the threshold

14 of her mother's home. You will hear that Robert

15 Graff picked up Jocalyn and took her outside and

16 laid her on the ground. She has already passed.

17 You will hear from Michael Pye and

18 Christopher Whitler. They are the next

19 firefighters in the house. And you will learn

20 that they have a systematic way of searching the

21 house. And they go to the right and they check

22 each room as they go through. These are the

23 firefighters that found the children.

24 And you will learn that when they entered

25 the room, where the children are found, the
16

1 children were laying in bed. They appeared to be

2 asleep to the firefighters. Cordarrian Hill is

3 laying next to his sister, Cordarica. They are

4 kind of sleeping in a spooning position.

5 Cordarrian Hill has his arm around his little

6 sister.

7 The firefighters each -- Michael Pye picks

8 up one child. Christopher Whitler picks up the

9 other. As they pick them up, they noticed blood

10 on the pillows and mattress beneath them. As

11 they are taking them out, they noticed Cordarrian

12 Hill and Cordarica Hill, both, have gunshot

13 wounds to the head.

14 They are taken outside. They are laid on

15 the ground, and they too have already passed. It

16 takes a while for the firefighters to put out the

17 fire. You will see pictures of how bad this fire

18 was and how much it destroyed the house.

19 As the firefighters are going through and

20 putting out the last hot spots in the house, the

21 body of Bridget Gray is found in the master

22 bedroom where Nadia saw the fire start. Her body

23 is burned beyond recognition. But you will learn

24 that she, too, has a bullet hole to her head.

25 She is removed from the scene by the medical
17

1 examiner's office. You are going to learn after

2 the murders there was a task force formed by the

3 sheriff's office and many detectives that worked

4 on the case. And you will hear from some of them

5 testify, and they will tell you about their

6 efforts to determine who murdered the four people

7 on August 5th.

8 One of the people you will hear from is

9 Detective Jerry Bevan. He will tell you that he

10 spoke with the defendant the next day. The

11 defendant told him about the text message from

12 Bridget. He told him that he was calling "Joc"

13 to tell her that her mom needed to go to the

14 hospital, and that he spoke with "Joc" during

15 that time frame, and he was at home when he made

16 those calls.

17 You will learn that Detective Bevan asked

18 him, "Do you mind if we make a copy of the

19 information that's on the cellphone," and the

20 defendant agreed. And Matthew Bos did what they

21 call a "dump" of the phone.

22 They hook it to a computer, and it downloads

23 all the information on the defendant's telephone

24 on to a computer.

25 You will hear that on August 10th, five days
18

1 after the murders, a man walked into the

2 sheriff's office and said, "I have some

3 information about the quadruple murders that

4 happened this week." That man is Randall

5 Neumann. He's James Bannister's cousin.

6 And you will hear him testify, and he will

7 tell you that that morning the defendant called

8 him said, "Hey, can I come borrow your computer?"

9 And Randall said, "Sure." Randall's nickname is

10 Pint. The defendant calls him "Pint."

11 When he gets over to Randall's house he

12 starts telling him, "Pint, I think I might be

13 accused of these murders." And Randall says,

14 "You don't need to worry about that, your

15 cellphone records will show where you were at the

16 time of the murders. It's not anything you need

17 to worry about."

18 And they are at Randall Neumann's house and

19 his girlfriend is there. And so the defendant

20 says, "Can we take a walk outside?" They go

21 outside, and the defendant starts to tell Randall

22 Neumann about the events of August 5th. He tells

23 him that he went to a girl's house. He had

24 smoked that store-bought marijuana and he smoked

25 cocaine. He got in his car. He didn't really
19

1 know why, he was just driving around, and he

2 ended up at Bridget's house.

3 And he told him that when he made the phone

4 call to "Joc" to get her to come out there that

5 he was at Bridget's house. He starts telling

6 Randall Neumann that he's very concerned that his

7 phone records are, in fact, not going to help him

8 but they are going to show that he was at

9 Bridget's house at the time of the murders.

10 And he asked Randall to help him look into

11 Metro PCS and find out if they will be able to

12 tell where his phone calls were made from because

13 people hung up, or whether that would show up.

14 Randall tells him that he will look that stuff

15 up.

16 The defendant also told him that he got rid

17 of the gun. You're going to hear that when

18 Randall Neumann left, he was very disturbed about

19 what he had just heard. He called his brother

20 and talked to his brother, and then they decided

21 they needed to go to the sheriff's office and

22 talk to the detectives working on the case.

23 So when Randall Neumann was there speaking

24 with the detectives they asked him if he would

25 agree to wear a wire and go back and talk to the
20

1 defendant again. He agreed.

2 You're going to get to hear that

3 conversation that Randall Neumann had with James

4 Bannister on August 10th. It's on a video, but

5 you will -- when you see it, you can't really see

6 the people, the way they hook those up, but you

7 will hear the conversation.

8 Keep in mind that the defendant has already

9 told Randall Neumann what had happened. And when

10 Randall Neumann was telling him what happened,

11 earlier in that evening, he told him it was like

12 a video game, I couldn't stop it.

13 So when Randall Neumann goes back to talk to

14 the defendant, he can't really start asking him

15 questions that would be suspicious. So he's

16 going to start off where they left off and their

17 conversations about him getting the information

18 from Metro PCS. When you listen to that

19 statement listen very carefully to the words of

20 the defendant.

21 The voice that's loud -- and Randall Neumann

22 will explain who is talking. But the voice that

23 you can hear the loudest will be Randall

24 Neumann's because he's obviously closest to the

25 mic because it's on his person. You will hear
21

1 that Randall Neumann -- they have some chitchat,

2 some small conversation while Randall Neumann's

3 brother is there. Randall Neumann didn't have a

4 driver's license so the police couldn't let him

5 drive over there. His brother drove him over.

6 They talk a little bit, and then his brother

7 leaves. And Randall Neumann says to the

8 defendant, "You didn't tell anybody else, did

9 you?" The defendant says, "No." He also says a

10 few times in that conversation, "If I get out of

11 this -- if I get out of this, I owe her my life.

12 If I get out of this, I'm moving out of Florida.

13 If I get out of this, I'm staying off drugs."

14 You will hear the defendant say, "I'm still

15 kinda worried -- " they are talking about the

16 Metro PCS phone records. "I'm still kinda

17 worried about if they can place me there, you

18 know, what I'm saying? When the calls were being

19 placed, when I phoned, when "Joc" called me, I

20 was out there. I just want to know can they --

21 can the locator point me out?" You will also

22 hear him tell Randall Neumann, "I just took my

23 world, Man."

24 After Randall Neumann leaves the defendant's

25 house, sheriff's office comes, they pick up the
22

1 defendant. They take him to the sheriff's

2 office. Donald Buie is a detective with the

3 sheriff's office, and he questions the defendant.

4 He reads him his Miranda rights. The defendant

5 agrees to speak with him. You will see that

6 interview.

7 You will hear what the defendant told

8 Detective Donald Buie. And you will hear

9 Detective Donald Buie confirm that the cellphone

10 records show he's out at Bridget's house the time

11 the phone calls were made at the time that this

12 murder took place.

13 You will be able to see what the defendant

14 says and how he reacts to that information. You

15 will see the phone records, and you will learn

16 that the phone records do confirm that the

17 defendant was out there. The phone records that

18 are pertinent started at 11:23 -- prior to the

19 defendant calling Jocalyn and telling her to

20 come, that her mom needed to go to the hospital.

21 That phone call was at 11:35.

22 At 11:23 p.m., on August 4th, to 12:45 a.m.,

23 on August 5th, there are at least 16 phone calls

24 coming in and out of the defendant's phone, and

25 all of them are captured by the cellphone tower
23

1 closest to Bridget Gray's house, nine and a half

2 miles away from the defendant's house where he

3 claims he was when he was making those phone

4 calls.

5 You are going to learn that in between the

6 time of the murders, and when the defendant was

7 arrested, the defendant's going around to

8 Jocalyn's friends and Jocalyn's family members

9 and he's just hanging around asking questions,

10 trying to see what people know, what people are

11 talking about.

12 In one of those instances he's at Bridget

13 Gray's mother's house, Lillie Mae Langston. Also

14 there is Tarkyshia Wade. She is Jocalyn Gray's

15 cousin. They are watching on the television a

16 story about a man who got out of jail. He was

17 mad at his family. He goes and he shoots or

18 stabs --

19 MR. LENAMON: Objection. I have a motion.

20 I have a motion, Judge.

21 THE COURT: All right.

22 (The following proceeding took place at

23 sidebar outside the presence of the jury.)

24 MR. LENAMON: I move for a mistrial. Making

25 this part of this case where another man killed
24

1 his family somewhere else is irrelevant. I have

2 not raised or opened the door to this issue in

3 cross-examination of this witness. This is

4 prejudicial. There is no cure for it. I would

5 ask for an instruction from Your Honor indicating

6 that what the prosecutor did was inappropriate

7 and to disregard that evidence. But I don't

8 believe --

9 MS. ARNOLD: The Court has previously ruled

10 that Tarkyshia Wade testified about the events,

11 that they were watching this television show

12 about a murder, and that she had said -- the

13 Court has already ruled that this conversation

14 about the television show is admissible. The

15 television show is about a person who killed his

16 family. And Tarkyshia Wade said they always --

17 "They always leave something behind. They always

18 get caught." And that's when the -- the

19 defendant made the statement that "Hypothetically

20 --

21 THE COURT: All right. Objection is

22 overruled. The motion for mistrial is denied.

23 (Sidebar discussion concluded and the

24 following proceedings were had before the Court

25 and the jury.
25

1 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont')

2 MS. FLETCHER: As they are watching this

3 television show -- which let's be perfectly clear

4 this has nothing to do with this case. This is a

5 television show from an event that had taken

6 place a long time ago and in Memphis, Tennessee.

7 But in that case, the defendant got -- the

8 suspect got out of jail, and he went to his

9 family's house, and he either shot or stabbed the

10 family.

11 MR. LENAMON: Objection. I have a motion.

12 THE COURT: Is it the same the objection?

13 MR. LENAMON: Same objection.

14 THE COURT: It's denied.

15 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

16 MS. FLETCHER: One of the victims in that

17 case survived and was in the hospital. And

18 officers went to the hospital and talked with

19 that victim, and the victim said --

20 MR. LENAMON: Objection, motion.

21 THE COURT: Counsel approach.

22 (The following proceeding was held at

23 sidebar outside the presence of the jury.)

24 THE COURT: Two things: First, the

25 objection is overruled. The motion is denied.
26

1 You don't have to keep making them every time she

2 makes reference to it. But Ms. Fletcher, you

3 don't need to go into the details. Get to the

4 point.

5 MR. LENAMON: Could I make a point so the

6 Court understands and reconsiders its ruling.

7 The conversation has to do with whether or not a

8 witness lived; that's all. And the defendant's

9 response and getting into the details of the

10 event is irrelevant.

11 THE COURT: That's why I'm asking her to

12 stay away from the details. We don't need the

13 details.

14 MS. FLETCHER: Yes, sir.

15 THE COURT: I'm not going to grant a

16 mistrial. Your motion is denied. Your objection

17 is overruled.

18 MS. ALAVI: The last time I was sitting back

19 there, we can hear everything that's being said

20 up here. I think we need to figure something

21 out.

22 THE COURT: Well, the only other thing to do

23 is to remove the jury. I'm not removing them

24 every two minutes.

25 Your objection is overruled. Your motion is
27

1 denied. Let's move on.

2 MS. FLETCHER: Yes, sir.

3 (Sidebar concluded and the following

4 proceedings were held before the Court and in the

5 presence of the jury.)

6 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

7 MS. FLETCHER: At the end of the television

8 show Tarkyshia Wade says, "Criminals always get

9 caught. They always leave something behind," and

10 the defendant started rocking back and forth in

11 an unusual manner and he said, "Hypothetically,

12 what if they all die?"

13 We will prove to you beyond a reasonable

14 doubt that on August 5th, the defendant with a

15 premeditated design to kill Bridget Gray pointed

16 a revolver to her head. He pulled the trigger,

17 and he ended her life.

18 He walked into the room where the two

19 children were and with a premeditated design to

20 kill Cordarrian Hill pointed a revolver to his

21 head, and he pulled the trigger and he ended his

22 life. With a premeditated design to kill

23 Cordarica Hill, he pointed a revolver to her head

24 and pulled the trigger, and he ended her life.

25 Then he lured Jocalyn Gray to her mother's house.
28

1 And as she was entering the house, while her

2 eight-year-old daughter sat in the car in the

3 driveway watching, and with a premeditated design

4 to kill Jocalyn Gray, he pointed a revolver to

5 her head. He pulled the trigger, and he ended

6 her life.

7 After he murdered four people, started a

8 fire in Bridget Gray's house to destroy her

9 house -- Bridget Gray's bedroom to destroy the

10 house.

11 "Hypothetically, what if they all died?"

12 MR. LENAMON: Objection, argument.

13 THE COURT: Sustained.

14 OPENING STATEMENT BY STATE (cont'd)

15 MS. FLETCHER: The defendant murdered four

16 people: His girlfriend, her mother and two

17 little children.

18 THE COURT: Mr. Lenamon.

19 MR. LENAMON: Is it okay if I put the board

20 right here?

21 THE COURT: Yes, sir.

22 OPENING STATEMENT BY DEFENSE

23 MR. LENAMON: Good morning. Forgive me,

24 Father, for I have sinned. How have you sinned?

25 I'm not sure. That's the best evidence this case
29

1 will give you.

2 You have a journey that you're going to take

3 over the next couple of weeks that's going to

4 define a great responsibility of looking and

5 reading between the lines. The most damning

6 evidence that you will hear in this case is from

7 a man named Randall Neumann.

8 What you will find out about Mr. Neumann is

9 that at the time of these events, he was a drug

10 addict, a pill user and the first cousin of my

11 client, James. His nickname was "Half Pint."

12 And what you will find out is that Half Pint was

13 extremely, extremely angry about the deaths of

14 these two children. That he thought Jamie was

15 the one who was involved in this from the very

16 beginning.

17 What you're going to discover is that there

18 were three times at least that we know of where

19 Randall Neumann had conversations with Jamie.

20 One of those is recorded. The prosecutor made

21 reference to that. The other two times, it's

22 unclear where and when they were. At least one

23 of those times, it was just Jamie and Randall

24 walking around, away from everybody talking.

25 You're going to hear that Randall Neumann
30

1 ultimately found his way to the Marion County

2 Sheriff's Office where he met with Detective Buie

3 who is not the lead detective in this case, and a

4 woman by the name of Miriam Diaz who is. That

5 they had a conversation with them -- with him.

6 It was a recorded conversation.

7 Everything that they talked about was

8 recorded on audio. And you will find out that

9 Miriam Diaz, and many of these detectives who are

10 involved in this case, record most of the

11 conversation they had with witnesses.

12 There may have been some unrecorded contact

13 with at least Ms. Diaz and perhaps some other

14 people. But what we know for sure is that a

15 gentleman by the name of Captain Spivey, who is

16 now a captain -- he was not a captain then. He

17 was a lieutenant or something similar -- was

18 approached on the night of this murder by either

19 Randall Neumann or one of his brothers. Now we

20 know one of -- he has two brothers.

21 The one who drove him to his -- we'll call

22 this the hidden microphone conversation. One of

23 his brothers who drove him to the hidden

24 microphone conversation. And he had another

25 brother as well who Spivey thought was the one he
31

1 talked to but was out of town in Montana or North

2 Dakota at the time.

3 I think the evidence will show that the

4 conversation was with Randall Neumann. Spivey

5 will tell you that Randall Neumann approached him

6 at a gas station and asked for his card. They

7 had a conversation about whether he could help

8 out or not. And Captain Spivey didn't think

9 anything of it at the time. Handed him his card.

10 Then sometime later he received a phone call

11 about this situation that Randall Neumann had

12 information that he could help out the police

13 with. Now, what you're going to discover about

14 these conversations, both were recorded and

15 unrecorded, is there's absolutely no discussion

16 of detail. There's no discussion of what went on

17 before or after.

18 As a matter of fact, Randall Neumann admits

19 in his recorded conversation, before he's wired

20 up and given the responsibility to go and gather

21 evidence against this man who is facing the death

22 penalty in Marion County --

23 MS. FLETCHER: Objection, argumentative.

24 THE COURT: Sustained.

25 OPENING STATEMENT BY DEFENSE (cont'd)
32

1 MR. LENAMON: That he told them there was no

2 detail. He told them that he was under the

3 influence of drugs. He had used huge amounts of

4 drugs. I think he said seven- or eight-laced

5 marijuana cigarettes he had smoked.

6 He told the police about this description of

7 an out-of-body experience, like a computer, like

8 he had no control. That's the details he gave

9 them. And they kept asking him -- you will hear

10 from Mr. Neumann. He didn't tell you how he got

11 in. He didn't tell you how it happened. He

12 didn't tell you why it happened. And his

13 conversation with the police was there was no

14 motive; it just happened.

15 He was at a girl's house over in this

16 particular area seeing this girl. The next thing

17 he knows, he's driving. The next thing, he's

18 there. That's the best you are going to get.

19 Now, what they are banking on, what he says

20 in this recorded conversation, is he says some

21 things that are damning. There's no question

22 they are damning. One of the issues is he's

23 worried about being placed in the area. The

24 area. Not at the house. The area. Let's talk

25 about the area.
33

1 I think it's 40. Mr. Bannister lives all

2 the way over here right down this street, back

3 here and in this corner. To get to this location

4 where this event took place, you have to drive

5 straight down 40, through a community, through a

6 bunch of places. There's stores. I think there's

7 a Dunkin' Donuts. There's a gas station, under

8 75. There's all kinds of people that live out

9 there. All kinds of things around this.

10 What you will find, unlike, they didn't tell

11 you, is that their person who did the phone

12 records, cell tower investigation, will tell you,

13 that each of the towers has a range of up to five

14 miles in distance that you can get to. Why is

15 that important? Because you are going to see at

16 least one or two maps that Officer Dice prepares.

17 I will give you a hypothetical. You will

18 see -- this is not evidence as the Court told

19 you, but essentially --

20 MS. FLETCHER: Objection, argumentative.

21 THE COURT: This is opening statement.

22 OPENING STATEMENT BY DEFENSE (cont'd)

23 MR. LENAMON: Jamie lives over here -- you

24 will hear evidence Jamie lives over here and the

25 homicides occurred here. You will have 40, and
34

1 you will have 75. There's a bunch of towers.

2 Their expert is going to come in and talk

3 about those towers and the time that the phone is

4 ringing off those towers. I will get a chance to

5 talk to him and explain in detail about what is

6 the facts. The facts are, you hit a tower,

7 there's a radius in each direction. You will

8 hear, as a matter of fact, that although these

9 towers have the option of determining direction,

10 they didn't bother to use that in this case. So

11 it's something that you need to listen to.

12 Now, there is no question that he lies to

13 the police. There's no question that he's in

14 this area. But you're going to find out drugs --

15 because this man lost his job in December, and he

16 was dealing drugs, and he was a womanizer.

17 The phone records -- which they have all the

18 text records here -- show that he was

19 communicating with two different women in the

20 hours leading up to this. And by his own

21 admission, Mr. Neumann says in this recorded

22 statement -- actually, it's the recorded

23 statement by the police that he told them he was

24 at a girl's house.

25 And all of a sudden, according to
35

1 Mr. Neumann, he drops everything, gets in his car

2 and drives and commits this horrendous act. Now,

3 I started out telling you about the damning

4 evidence. And I will be straight with you,

5 there's some things in there that you're going to

6 have to struggle with. Because the easy thing to

7 do is to think guilt.

8 There's a conversation he has with

9 Mr. Neumann about getting enough money to get a

10 good attorney. Like the prosecutor had talked

11 about, "I took my world. I took my world."

12 About changing his life now for the better, to be

13 a better person for what I did. About remorse

14 about "Joc's" death, and a concern about being

15 there.

16 But what you're going to find out is "there"

17 is not there. And as you listen to the evidence

18 what you will find out is that from the very

19 beginning that Randall Neumann came in contact

20 with his cousin, who he feigns to be his close

21 cousin throughout all of this, and even here

22 acting as if he's his best friend -- that he had

23 only one motive and one intent and that was to

24 substantiate what his belief was in his heart.

25 Now, is Randall Neumann a bad person? No,
36

1 not a bad person. But he's driven. For the

2 right reasons? I don't know. Let's flash

3 forward now to Ms. Wade, Tarkyshia Wade who I

4 only met recently --

5 MS. FLETCHER: Objection.

6 THE COURT: Sustained.

7 MR. LENAMON: You will find out that

8 Tarkyshia Wade never told the police about this

9 conversation. And that the first time that this

10 came to light was in August of this year, six

11 years after this happened.

12 Ms. Wade is a respectable teacher. She is a

13 loving first cousin of "Joc." She was very close

14 with her. She was a loving niece to her Aunt

15 Bridget. And her mother was extremely close with

16 Bridget. And so one could imagine the pain that

17 one suffers through the loss of both of these

18 people.

19 And what you will find is Ms. Wade was

20 actually living out of state at the time when she

21 got the phone call on the night of this incident

22 from her cousin to come here. And within a day,

23 or two, she's here with her husband and her

24 family. Her story, and it may be partially true

25 --
37

1 MS. FLETCHER: Objection, argumentative.

2 THE COURT: Sustained.

3 MR. LENAMON: Her story is that there was a

4 period of time from about August 7th to August

5 10th where she was staying, I believe it was the

6 grandmother's house. All the family members, not

7 his family members, her family members and

8 friends would go there and hang out and console

9 each other.

10 And she was staying there with her husband

11 and her two children. And what she described --

12 what the State talks about is that on a

13 particular day during that period of time Jamie

14 would be there hanging out. She admits that he

15 was despondent at times. She also admits that

16 she, like Mr. Neumann and some other family

17 members, believed that Jamie may have been

18 involved in this.

19 And what you will come to learn is that

20 Jamie's behavior, before or subsequent, after

21 this event was extremely dysfunctional,

22 disorganized.

23 He shows up to the fire at the time it's

24 happening, like other family members, and he's

25 acting erratic. And the detective describes him
38

1 as acting in an erratic, really strange behavior.

2 I think the State will show you a picture of him.

3 Judge for yourself when you look at the picture.

4 But all this strange stuff they were putting

5 together about why did Bridget text him and why

6 did "Joc" show up, and all of these things -- and

7 in closing arguments, we'll have an opportunity

8 to argue some of the points in evidence because

9 the State will do as well.

10 But it's clear that the family members had

11 said -- and she actually gave a statement to the

12 police before this incident. So Ms. Wade, who is

13 an educated woman, a teacher, had spoken with the

14 police on behalf of her cousin because they

15 didn't want to get involved.

16 You will hear some evidence that there were

17 some people that the police were looking at

18 initially in this investigation. They are not

19 law-abiding citizens.

20 But Ms. Wade communicates this information

21 to the police in the form of a statement. And

22 then supposedly this event takes place where she

23 is sitting, watching this show, the First 48,

24 which she had seen before, and she makes a

25 statement. And she claims Mr. Bannister, in
39

1 front of all her family members, because there

2 were five or six other family members in the room

3 at the time, started behaving by rocking back and

4 forth and making this comment that she claims he

5 made.

6 But for six years she never told anybody in

7 that office, anybody at the Marion County

8 Sheriff's Office, anybody about this. You will

9 have to explore whether her memory is accurate.

10 Has it changed? Whether there are things that

11 are influencing her memory. Whether this is real

12 or not real. I don't think Ms. Wade lied. I

13 think her perception was one thing for whatever

14 reason.

15 But in this courthouse in August of this

16 year, I stood in front of this judge and

17 cross-examined their lead detectives --

18 MS. FLETCHER: Objection, relevance and

19 argumentative.

20 MR. LENAMON: State of mind, Judge.

21 THE COURT: Of who?

22 MR. LENAMON: Ms. Wade. She was in the

23 room.

24 THE COURT: Well, overruled. Go ahead.

25 MR. LENAMON: So I could tie it up for the
40

1 judge because he makes the decision we talked

2 about and the evidence. She is in the room at

3 the time. She had not been to a court hearing in

4 over a year.

5 During the first five years she couldn't

6 make a lot of the court hearings but she would

7 keep in touch with her mother. They were ready

8 to come here and be there with the family, put

9 aside their work, do what a good family member

10 does. She was in the courtroom at the time.

11 So she leaves the courtroom while this is

12 going on, and she tells her mother the story

13 about how she made eye contact with Mr. Bannister

14 because he's searching for forgiveness and things

15 that are eternally-driven and things she will

16 talk about when she will testify.

17 But she is telling her mother saying, Hey,

18 I'm looking back about this incident six years

19 ago, and it drew my memory back to that. Someone

20 from the state attorney's office overhears it and

21 says, Hey, either we don't have enough evidence

22 or we need more --

23 MS. FLETCHER: Objection.

24 THE COURT: Sustained.

25 MR. LENAMON: I apologize.
41

1 THE COURT: Stick with the facts, Mr.

2 Lenamon.

3 MR. LENAMON: We need to talk to you. And

4 they talk to her, and they take her statement,

5 and that's turned over to me. I take her

6 deposition and ask her questions. That's

7 where -- that's where we're at with Ms. Wade. So

8 you will have to decide what weight you give to

9 Ms. Wade.

10 Going back to Mr. Neumann now. So the issue

11 then becomes, we have a man that apparently

12 admits to you that he's driven by the violence of

13 two dead children, and he wants to do something

14 about it. And he talks to the detective way

15 before he talks to Mr. Bannister about this, and

16 they have private conversations.

17 And I suggest, as I cross-examine

18 Mr. Neumann, he will tell you some of the things

19 that I talked about and more in regard to what

20 was really going on and how it was really going

21 on.

22 Then you will have to take a look at the

23 four or five or six points, I call them, and say

24 to yourself does the evidence suggest that means

25 this or this or that. I would suggest that at
42

1 the end it's a decision that you are going to

2 have to make individually. I, and Ms. Arnold,

3 can only guide you as to what the evidence is.

4 But it's certainly super clear that based on

5 Mr. Neumann's description of this, and even if

6 you listen to the statement of Mr. Bannister,

7 that this is a fog at best. The memory and

8 accuracy of the evidence is going to be up to you

9 to determine the value of that.

10 But more importantly, or as importantly,

11 you're going to ask yourself why Mr. Neumann --

12 as the State described, he has to be careful when

13 he's going in there. You will hear Mr. Neumann

14 go to the police station. They place a body

15 microphone on him. And I think -- I will

16 exaggerate -- fifty cops follow him secretly to

17 Mr. Bannister. There were multiple cars. They

18 were there listening. They were monitoring

19 everything that went on.

20 So him being careful about this -- but

21 listen to the questions he asked or doesn't ask.

22 Remember, when I cross-examine him about all the

23 things that the detectives told him. They really

24 got in his corner. The hero began to develop on

25 paper when he was sitting --
43

1 MS. FLETCHER: Objection, argumentative.

2 THE COURT: Sustained. Stick with what the

3 evidence is, Mr. Lenamon.

4 MR. LENAMON: Yes, sir.

5 OPENING STATEMENT BY DEFENSE (cont'd)

6 MR. LENAMON: You will hear how the

7 detectives said to him it's really important that

8 you do this. We need your help. We need your

9 help. We need your help. And after questioning

10 him over and over again, are you sure you didn't

11 say this? Are you sure you didn't say that? And

12 Mr. Neumann is I guess being honest to some

13 extent. He's not making stuff up necessarily.

14 But he's not being completely honest. Goes in

15 there with the direction to get more evidence.

16 He actually gets less.

17 About this 38. My client was robbed in

18 July. This is August. My client was robbed. He

19 had a gun. He took that gun. He went and shot

20 that gun at those gentlemen. They recovered a

21 projectile and compared it to the four

22 projectiles. Said, you know, we really can't

23 make a match because this is damaged.

24 I will go into detail with their expert

25 about all the issues of class characteristics and
44

1 the liability of things, so forth and so on in

2 cross-examination. My expert is going to tell

3 you something different. I assure you, my expert

4 is going to tell you something different.

5 So therefore, you have a gun that he's

6 referencing because he says to the detectives,

7 yeah, he told me about being robbed. It was the

8 same gun that he used to go after those guys and

9 shoot that he used in this case. Same gun. But

10 I don't know where it was. Did you ask him? No.

11 Okay. How about next time when you go in, we're

12 going to record it, could you ask him? No.

13 As a matter of fact, the only reference that

14 you can actually believe in this recorded

15 statement is that Neumann is the only one who

16 says 38. My client doesn't even acknowledge that

17 in the statement. I'm acknowledging it for him.

18 But that's what was going on here.

19 Then we have Detective Buie who meets with

20 my client, and he has admitted that he listened

21 in to this event, this event that occurred

22 between Mr. Neumann and my client. So there's a

23 recorded statement from the event that we

24 understand. Neumann meets with my client one or

25 more times. Neumann comes in and calls the
45

1 police, Spivey. They do a recorded statement of

2 everything they talk about there. "Will you wear

3 a wire?" "Yes."

4 He wears a wire. A bunch of people follow

5 him. Buie is one of the people who is monitoring

6 this conversation going on. Conversation ends.

7 You will have the recording to listen to and to

8 read as you go through this.

9 Buie then brings in my client and talks to

10 my client. He has this recording. He has all

11 this information that he supposedly says. He

12 never asks him about that stuff. Hey, you told

13 this guy this. You told this. You did this.

14 You're saying that. He didn't do it. Why? I

15 will argue that in closing. But think about it.

16 This is not an easy case for you. Because

17 there's a gut instinct that takes over when you

18 think about some of the things that this man said

19 in those recordings. But I would suggest that

20 you keep an open mind and look at completely all

21 the evidence in this case. And is it a man who

22 has sinned by cheating on his wife, his girl,

23 selling drugs, taking things for granted or a man

24 who has these scoped, delusional memories

25 imprinted on his mind of being involved in
46

1 something that he can't even say what. Because

2 it's so deeply buried inside him that he can't

3 even tell the only person who is willing to

4 listen to, his cousin, about what happened

5 because he doesn't know.

6 A man who may have woken up and realized

7 where was I? What was I doing? I don't know

8 those answers. Those are answers that you are

9 going to have to struggle with as you listen to

10 the evidence in this case, but I trust you will.

11 Thank you, Judge.

12

13 (End of excerpt)

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25
47

1 C E R T I F I C A T E

2

3 STATE OF FLORIDA )

4 COUNTY OF MARION )

5 I do hereby certify that I was authorized to and did

6 stenographically report the foregoing excerpt proceeding,

7 pages numbered 1 through 46, and that the transcript is a

8 true and correct record of my stenographic notes.

9 Dated this 3rd day of November, 2017.

10

11 ______/s/_____________________
Karla Layfield
12 Registered Professional Reporter
Florida Professional Reporter
13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25