TRIAL: Two co-defendants in Wardville drive-by testify against murder suspect

Terrence Armstrong charged with second degree murder for Oct. 20. 2020 shooting death of Edwin Davidson, Jr.
Terrence Armstrong
Terrence Armstrong(RPSO/KALB)
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 1:56 PM CST
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Witness testimony is continuing in the Rapides Parish courthouse for the second degree murder trial of Terrence Armstrong, 25, of Alexandria, for the Oct. 20, 2020, deadly shooting of Edwin Davidson, Jr., 17, at a home on Orchard Loop in Wardville.

Armstrong is one of five people who were charged in connection to the case. According to the Pineville Police Department, the shooting was tied to an earlier narcotics transaction that police emphasized Davidson was not involved in.

Two suspects, Pamela Smith and Kaitlyn Carlino, both pleaded guilty in 2021 to conspiracy to commit second degree murder. Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Carlino will be sentenced after all of the cases conclude.

Another suspect, Andrew Mayo, was found guilty by a Rapides Parish jury of second degree murder last year.

A final suspect, Tyrone Compton, who is also charged with second degree murder, will head to trial on May 15, 2023.

Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall is prosecuting Armstrong’s case. Armstrong is represented by Christopher LaCour. Judge Greg Beard is presiding.

Friday, March 3, 2023, noon update:

The first witness that the State called on Friday was Lt. Cody Griffith with the Pineville Police Department. We learned on Thursday that the earlier narcotics deal also involved a person named Syria Mahfouz, who later became a person of interest in the case after the drive-by shooting that killed Edwin Davidson, Jr.

Mahfouz was located at an apartment by police. Also inside the apartment were Tyrone Compton and Pamela Smith. All three were taken to the police department for questioning.

Two more suspects developed, Kaitlyn Carlino and Andrew Mayo. With the help of staff at their place of employment, they also ended up at the police department for questioning.

There was brief mention of video evidence picking up the earlier narcotics deal, but Griffith told the jury it was accidently deleted from a flash drive.

Pamela Smith was called to the stand next. She was in an orange jumpsuit and was handcuffed, as she is serving time for her role in the case. Smith also testified in Andrew Mayo’s trial last year. He’s serving life in prison for his second degree murder conviction.

Smith was in a relationship with Compton and told the jury on the stand that she still loves him and they still communicate.

Smith said she began using Xanax after the death of her baby son. She also admitted to selling weed because it was “fast money.” After being robbed at gunpoint during a transaction, she said she got a gun. At some point Smith said her gun went missing and believes that Compton may have given it to Mayo.

Smith and Compton lived together. Mayo was Compton’s friend and introduced the group to Carlino. Armstrong also had ties to Compton and Smith said he would come over sometimes. She said he always had a gun.

“A large gun,” she told the jury. The State said it was a rifle.

Smith talked about the earlier Xanax buy that was at the center of the case that led to the drive-by shooting on Oct. 20, 2020. She placed Mayo, Mayo’s brother, Mahfouz, Compton, Carlino, and herself at the buy.

Smith said they met a vehicle off of Highway 107 with “two guys” inside. We know the two people inside to be ‘Lee Jack,’ who investigators said conducted the deal and Davidson in the passenger seat, who investigators said wasn’t involved. She said Mayo approached the vehicle and there was an exchange. The other vehicle drove off after.

“He passed it to Tyrone. He pulled it out and in it was five (Xanax) and paper,” said Smith. She said there was supposed to be 15 inside.

“We’re addicts,” she told the jury. “We thought we were getting one thing. Everyone had an attitude.”

The group ended back up at Smith’s apartment. Smith said she and Carlino took a bar and smoked a blunt. At some point, she said Armstrong got called and Smith, Carlino, Armstrong, Compton, and Mayo got into Carlino’s car. Smith was at the wheel.

They end up going to Orchard Loop where they knew the dealer to be staying.

“We make the loop,” she said. Then, “Gunshots. A lot. Multiple. From the back seat.” Smith identified Compton, Mayo and Armstrong in the back seat.

Smith told the jury there was no plan, only one for “confrontation.” She said she had no clue anyone would shoot.

We learned at Mayo’s trial that it was his bullet that entered the walls of the house on Orchard Loop and killed Davidson.

Afterward, Smith sped off and the group headed back to the apartment. Together they removed different sized casings from the inside of the car. She told the jury that Armstrong threatened them if they snitched.

Smith was hesitant to talk about Compton, again saying she was in love with him.

“I have these feelings toward all of them (those involved, including herself),” said Smith. “I’m away from my children for senseless stupid acts.”

During cross examination, there are some tense moments with Armstrong’s defense attorney, Christopher LaCour of how Armstrong’s name got brought up to police.

Smith said that she heard his name during questioning by police, as the other suspects spoke to police, and essentially confirmed it.

There’s also some tension about if Smith actually saw Armstrong get into the vehicle to head to the drive-by with the rifle he was known to carry.

“How could you not see a rifle get in that vehicle,” asked LaCour.

“I wasn’t looking for that,” she replied.

Smith said Armstrong kept the rifle in his pants.

“It would always be on his leg,” she said.

Later, LaCour pushed back on Smith’s credibility.

“You give us so many contradictory statements,” he told told her.

“I was under the influence of Xanax,” said Smith, emphasizing that she wanted to make sure she got the recollection of events straight.

During redirect testimony with Hall, Smith confirmed that a statement she gave previously about Armstrong essentially pushing for the group to go to the Orchard Loop house because of the robbery was in fact accurate.

She also admitted that testimony she gave at Mayo’s trial that she saw Armstrong shoot was accurate.

“From behind me, as I realized shooting was happening, out the back window,” she said.

She said she did not see Mayo or Compton shoot, but she heard about 20 shots that she was certain multiple guns were involved. She also believed multiple guns were involved because different sized casings were removed from the vehicle after.

Friday, March 3, 2023, 1 p.m. update:

The State called Det. Will Smith with the Pineville Police Department as its next witness. He talked about how two witnesses in the house who saw Davidson get shot pointed him in the direction of Mahfouz initially because they knew the car involved in the drive-by shooting to be connected to her in the past. Again, that vehicle belonged to Carlino.

We also learned that ‘Lee Jack,’ who is believed to be in the intended drive-by target, was at the Orchard Street house during the shooting, but was outside at the time.

Det. Smith explained that Pineville Police did not arrest ‘Lee Jack’ because they did not have physical drug evidence to tie to him.

A warrant for Armstrong’s arrest was issued after the rest of the group charged in the case was arrested. Armstrong turned himself into police. He also gave a statement in which Det. Smith said he didn’t admit to involvement in the shooting, but said he knew Compton.

“He said Compton came by and he didn’t say what Compton wanted, but he didn’t go,” said Det. Smith of what Armstrong told detectives.

He also told police he didn’t know the other people involved.

Pineville Police checked Armstrong’s social media and saw guns in photos.

“He said those guns were fake,” said Det. Smith.

He also gave an alibi, but Det. Smith said it didn’t check out.

During cross examination, Det. Smith admitted that there was no physical evidence tying Armstrong to the case.

On redirect questioning, Hall showed the jury three social media photos that were believed to be tied to Armstrong showing a variety of guns.

LaCour objected and had the chance to cross examine Det. Smith again.

LaCour said the photos did not show Armstrong’s face and the weapons were not recovered or tied to the case.

As the jury took a break for lunch, LaCour argued outside their presence that, while he knew the photos existed, it was the first time he was seeing them and had to cross examine Det. Smith about them with little preparation.

Judge Beard allowed the photos to remain as evidence.

Friday, March 3, 2023, 3 p.m. update:

After a lunch break, the State called Det. Miranda Collura from the Pineville Police Department. She processed a blue Toyota Corolla hatchback that belonged to Kaitlyn Carlino.

“Nothing of significance was collected,” she said.

During cross examination, Collura agreed that there was nothing tying Armstrong to the vehicle.

We next heard from Mike Stelly with the North Louisiana Crime Lab. He’s an expert in firearms identification and tested firearms evidence collected from the scene - including fragments.

“I’ve got firearms evidence from three 9 mm weapons,” said Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall.

“That’s correct,” Stelly replied.

During cross examination, defense attorney Christopher LaCour pointed out that the report shows evidence from four weapons fired. Again, it’s believed that Armstrong, Mayo and Compton fired and that Smith and Carlino were not armed.

“Yes, based on the evidence in here,” said Stelly.

During re-direct testimony by Hall, Stelly said he can’t tell the timing on when the weapons were fired or if they were even fired the same day.

Another co-defendant, Kaitlyn Carlino, took the stand next. Again, she accepted a deal in 2021 for her involvement and will be sentenced after all the cases conclude.

Carlino said got introduced to the group because she knew Mayo from work. She said she met him about a month before the shooting.

Eventually, Carlino was introduced to Compton and Smith, who were friends of Mayo’s. She told the court that sometimes Armstrong would show up and “he had a gun.”

“A big gun, a rifle,” Carlino said.

She told the jury about the Xanax buy. She said the group, which did not include Armstrong, but included two others who are not charged, pooled their money to buy $90 worth of Xanax. Carlino put $40 forward and Compton and Smith put $50. They were to get 13 Xanax bars, but only received five.

Carlino drove her own car with the group inside to a place off of Highway 107 to get the pills from ‘Lee Jack.’ We know from other evidence that Davidson was in the passenger’s seat, but have been told he was not involved in the deal.

When the group realized they were shorted, she said initially they wanted her to follow the dealer’s vehicle. She said she didn’t feel comfortable doing that and instead they went back to a home that Compton and Smith shared.

They split up the Xanax and Carlino said she and Smith each took one.

“Mr. Armstrong showed up at some point that night,” said Carlino, which she said was about 1 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2020.

They watched TV for a little bit, then, “I got told we were going back to get the pills or money.” Carlino said she thought the group had a conversation with the dealer about it.

“I told them I’d ride to go get mine,” she said.

Carlino placed herself, Armstrong, Compton, Smith, and Mayo in her car to ride to Orchard Loop. Smith drove. Carlino was in the passenger seat. She said Compton and Armstrong were in the back, and Mayo was in her hatchback.

Carlino said Armstrong was armed when he got in the car. Until the shooting, she said she didn’t realize that Compton and Mayo were armed.

Initially, the car was supposed to pull across the street.

“They were supposed to walk down there to talk to them,” she told the jury.

But, “As soon as we got in front of the house - shooting,” she said.

Carlino said she saw Mayo and Compton shoot. She said Mayo leaned over and shot out the same back window as Compton.

She admitted that she did not see Armstrong shoot.

“They both (Compton and Mayo) stopped. There were still gunshots going off,” said Carlino.

“You’re certain it was from your car?” asked Hall.

“Yes,” she replied.

For previous coverage of this story, CLICK HERE

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