First day of Derrick Stafford trial in Marksville

Published: Mar. 20, 2017 at 11:17 AM CDT
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On Monday morning at 9 a.m., opening arguments were heard in Marksville for the Derrick Stafford murder trial.

Derrick Stafford is accused of murdering 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and attempted murder of his father, Chris Few.

"Chris Few is going to tell you every day how he regrets not pulling over," Matt Derbes said in opening arguments for the state. "Chris Few was a hardworking young man who loved his 6-year-old son very much."

The state said Few was trying to follow his girlfriend, Megan Dixon, to get her to take Jeremy. He claimed this is why he didn't pull over. The state also said that Few was worried if he got pulled over that police would take his son away.

"You will see images you'll never forget with his hands up, a universal sign of surrender," Derbes continued. "You're never going to hear anything about Chris using the Kia as a deadly weapon."

The state said that evidence will show that Ward 2 had an arrest quota system and that pay depended on arrests.

For the defense opening arguments, Jonathan Goins asked, "Should a parent be responsible for the safety and welfare of their child?"

He then quoted the story of Solomon from the Bible and how the baby was almost split in half. He compared the story to being a responsible parent.

"Regardless of the outcome in this matter, there are no winners in this case," Goins said.

The defense said that testimony will focus a lot on Chris Few using Kia as a deadly weapon. He also said medical records will show Few had alcohol, meth and Xanax in his system the night of Nov. 3.

"Innocent people do not run from the police," Goins said.

He said that Stafford can be heard in the body cam video saying, "I never saw the kid in the car, man. I was telling him to stop."

The first witness by the State was a woman who was arrested by Derrick Stafford in 2010. She claimed she was tased in the back of police car. The defense pointed out that one of her charges was resisting arrest.

Next, three witnesses were called who all had negative run-ins with Stafford. One witness was Alexis McNeal, a 911 operator. She played the radio call from the night Jeremy was killed and Chris shot.


Court resumed after a lunch break, and the state began by calling Vernon Brown, another resident who once had a run-in with Stafford.

Brown is a bartender at TJ's Lounge in Marksville who said Few was not drunk that night and did not fight.

The state then called Marksville PD Chief Elster Smith who went over the body cam video and pursuit policies, which say that one may discontinue pursuit to avoid danger.

During the cross-examination, the defense said that Marksville PD policies did not apply that night because Stafford was working on the side for Ward 2.

The state next called Frank Garcia with Louisiana State Police. He downloaded the body cam footage from Officer Parnell. The video was then played in court as the Few family cried. Some jurors even wiped away tears during the footage.

The body cam footage starts after the shots were fired and shows no officers rendering aid. In the video, one officer said, "There's a juvenile."

Later in the trial, the state showed new body cam footage taken by two Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office deputies on the scene. They were told that Few had a gun.

One APSO deputy is heard talking about the Marshal's Office, "They're buttoned up. They aren't telling us s**t." He is later heard saying, "I don't know how much they fired. There's brass everywhere." And then, "They lit him up. The little boy got in the way."

At one point in the body cam video, Few's family showed up to the scene but were moved back. State Police had not arrived yet.

Kenneth Parnell, the officer with the original body cam footage that was released prior to the trial, testified about the night. When asked if he fired his gun, he said, "100% no." Then when he was asked why he did not shoot, he said, "I wasn't in fear of my life."