Accused killer Rodger Scales trial begins in Columbus -, GA News Weather & Sports

Accused killer Rodger Scales trial begins in Columbus

Rodger Scales Rodger Scales

The trial of accused killer Rodger Scales began Monday in Columbus. Scales is one of five men accused of taking an innocent man's life in a botched robbery.

Authorities say the group of alleged killers targeted the wrong apartment looking for drugs and money.

News Leader 9's Brittany Dionne was the only TV news reporter inside the courtroom for the first day of the trial.

"Death came knocking at the door the evening of November 9, 2010," said Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore.

Moore explained that Kelly Leggett, his brother Theodore "Teddy" Leggett, and Kelly's fiancée Angela Crawford lived together in apartment number seven located at 475 Old Buena Vista Road.

Kelly's brother Theodore had just relocated to Columbus three days prior; he was living with Kelly and Angela until he could secure a job.

Theodore testified he'd applied for a job with the YMCA and the opportunity looked favorable. Over hamburgers and fries, the trio celebrated Theodore's new job prospect by watching the movie "The Time Travelers Wife" and television show "1,000 Ways to Die."

Crawford testified they heard a soft knock at the door while watching television.

"We all looked at each other to see who was going to get up to answer the door," Crawford said.

Kelly got up and walked towards the front door. Crawford explained the door did not have a peep hole, so Kelly would usually go into the bathroom and look out the window to identify who was on their porch, but this night he didn't.

He opened the door, he must have seen something because he immediately tried to close it, Crawford testified.

Crawford said the last thing she heard her fiancé say was "get down."

"Kelley [was] hollering get down! Get down! [Then] we heard boom! Then it came again, boom! I [saw] Kelly fall back. The whole house went into turmoil and gunshots coming from every which way I could think of," Crawford recounted. "[Bullets were] coming from this side they're coming from that side. They were coming from the front door; they were coming from the back door; they were coming from the kitchen; they were coming from all over the house."

The prosecution proclaimed Theodore Leggett sprung into action trying to help his brother close the door.

Leggett testified he believed the assailants continued to fire into the home when they heard the door lock.

"The next shot went off. I was looking over at the window and I heard somebody come and say, 'this is the wrong house' then I heard somebody else say, "Oh well." By that time, I heard the next shot go off it hit me in the shoulder," Theodore Leggett said.

While bullets flew overhead, Crawford testified she crawled to the kitchen and began to ask the Lord to have mercy on her soul as she said she knew she was going to die that night.

Kelley Leggett was shot in the head with a 12 gauge shot gun. Officer Kyle Johnson with the Columbus Police Department testified the shot was within such close range the victim's brains were projected onto a nearby wall.

Johnson testified he'd ‘never seen a house shot up so bad'.

Moore stated at least 10 bullets were fired from two shotguns and an assortment of pistols into the small one-bedroom apartment.

Prior to the shooting, Moore said witnesses told police they saw up to two late "80's model primer gray" cars pull into a carwash behind the victim's apartment complex minutes before the shooting.

After the witnesses heard gunfire, Moore said they told investigators they saw the cars speed away, but they didn't get far: a patrol officer spotted the car heading towards Phenix City.

Moore exclaimed ‘luck was on their side'. Around midnight, an on-duty patrol officer spotted a car fitting the suspect description. Moore said the officer attempted to make a traffic stop. Upon exiting his cruiser the car sped off, Moore said.

The officer reportedly chased the 83 Chevrolet Malibu to the 13th street Bridge, but stopped as the car sped into Phenix City, a separate jurisdiction.

On the other side, Moore said a Phenix City officer spotted the Malibu coming over the bridge. The officer reportedly followed the car to River View Apartments in Phenix City.  

In that same complex, the officer noticed a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass also colored primer gray.

Moore stated several weapons were found in both cars. She said authorities found a 9mm handgun in the Chevrolet Malibu, a pistol, and rifle ammunition; suspect Jarvis Alexander was a passenger in the car.

Inside the Oldsmobile Cutlass authorities allegedly found a couple of pistols, a long gun holding case, rifle cartridges, a bayonet, and rifle loaders.

With help from one of the suspects' sister, authorities recovered the shotguns and rifle from an abandoned house located at 1259 South Dixon Drive, said Moore.

Upon interrogation, Moore stated suspect Cleveland Gray told investigators at least four different versions of what happened the night of the murder. She said Gray identified Scales as the mastermind behind the entire robbery. Gray also claimed to be the driver of the car staying behind while the others committed the crime.  

Gray's brother Tevin Gray told investigators he heard Scales say he thought he'd killed "the guy," according to Moore.

Defense Attorney Cynthia Lain's opening statements focused on credibility of witnesses. Lain stated Rodger Scales was not the shooter but admits being the driver of the car. She mentioned Scales drove the other suspects to the location not knowing they were going to commit a crime.

Lain urged the jury to consider the credibility of the Gray brothers' statements as they both accepted plea deals in exchange for their testimony against Scales.

Lain asserted co-defendant Deveka Wade was the mastermind behind the robbery. Lain said witnesses told investigators they saw six men wearing all black at the carwash behind the victim's house. Lain declared Scales was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans.  

Witnesses told investigators they saw a man with short dreadlocks running with a shotgun, Lain said.

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