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Three others who were at convenience store during deadly shooting testify in trial

Trial could conclude Saturday in Rapides Parish Courthouse
Testimony continued Friday in the Rapides Parish Courthouse for the trial of Eddie Ray Jackson,...
Testimony continued Friday in the Rapides Parish Courthouse for the trial of Eddie Ray Jackson, Jr.(Susan Alexander/KALB)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Three other people, including a one-time co-defendant, testified in the trial of Eddie Ray Jackson, Jr. in the Rapides Parish Courthouse on Friday. Jackson is charged with second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery with a firearm for the Feb. 2017 shooting death of James Melton in his truck in the parking lot of the Save More store in Alexandria.

The first witness who was called was Jackson’s cousin who told the jury that he joined his aunt, Jackson, and Nicholas West at the store. West would later plead guilty to obstruction of justice in 2018 for his role in the case.

The witness told the jury that, to his knowledge, no one was carrying a gun when they went to the store. But, he knew Jackson to own one.

Later, he said, he saw Jackson and West “backing off the truck,” and “Eddie had just shot the man in the truck.”

He said he didn’t know what to do.

“I was nervous,” he said. “I left the store. I didn’t know what to do.”

The witness told the jury he met up with his mother and the two of them got in a car with Jackson to go speak to Alexandria police detectives. But, he said, Jackson got out of the car on the way.

During cross-examination, Jackson’s attorney, Chad Guillot, pushed back on the witness testimony. He pulled up surveillance video from the shooting in an attempt to point out that the witness couldn’t see Jackson shoot Melton from the angle he was at. But, the witness was insistent that Jackson pulled the trigger.

Nicholas West was also called to testify. He pointed out in surveillance where he and Jackson were during the shooting. He also told the jury what he heard Jackson say to Melton: “He told the man, give up the money.” He said he heard a gunshot right after.

“He told me he shot the man,” West told the jury. “I said, why would you do that?”

During cross-examination, Guillot asked West more about his relationship with the woman who there to meet Melton and who gave her money. He acknowledged they had been dating for a brief amount of time.

“She said he was her friend,” West told the jury. Guillot asked if he was concerned that his girlfriend was meeting another man.

“No sir,” he said.

Guillot then pressed West and asked him if he planned for the murder to happen and if that’s why he pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case.

“No sir,” West told him again.

After the state rested its case, the defense called the woman to the stand who was at the convenience store to meet Melton.

She told the jury that she met him on a dating site and they had planned to meet in the parking lot before heading to Walmart. She said they had a friendship, not a relationship, and Melton would buy food for her and her son.

“Nothing asked in return,” she said.

There were sidebar discussions about introducing text messages between the two in the trial. And, she later told the jury that West knew about the relationship with Melton. She described what happened when she learned Melton had been shot while she was inside the store purchasing a drink and cigarettes.

“It didn’t register to me at first - his head was down,” she said. “I thought he wasn’t listening to me... I saw the hole in the back of his head. I froze. I pulled my phone out and called 911.”

There was further question about when exactly she called police.

Other witnesses called during testimony included Jackson’s mother in an attempt to try to establish an alibi. She admitted she didn’t see him that day but thought she knew where he was based off of text messages.

Melton’s sister also testified in the trial to try to tell the jury more about her younger brother, who she said was a single father raising a little boy. She also told the jury that her brother was an organ donor after his death.

During his burial, she said the little boy wanted to put his glasses in the casket, “to make sure he could see him and find him from heaven.”

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