Trial begins for Harris County 2021 land dispute murder suspect

Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 12:41 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2023 at 2:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The murder trail for now 70-year-old Johnnie Bryant is underway.

Bryant is accused of killing 29-year-old Dylan Eldridge in Harris County in November of 2021.

The trial began Tuesday, June 20 with jury selection. On Wednesday, June 21, the prosecution and defense presented their opening statements to jurors.

Assistant District Attorney, Alessandro Raimondo, told the jury the case is not about self-defense in contrast to what Bryant’s attorney Jackie Patterson argues.

“The defendant not only shot the victim, Mr. Eldridge, shot the other two victims - Mr. Feagan and Mr. Blackmon but also we’ll prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is not a case of self defense,” said Raimondo.

Patterson’s argument is that Bryant and the victim, Eldridge, were having a year and half long feud over property.

He said in different encounters, Eldridge would indirectly threaten Bryant by clutching a gun on his waist or have a long firearm over his shoulder.

He argued that’s what happened the day Bryant shot Eldridge.

“My client, in fearing that Dylan was actually going to shoot him, he decided that he couldn’t wait to be shot so he had no other option but to shoot Dylan,” Patterson said.

The first few witnesses, which are deputies who responded that day, have testified including Michael Blackmon who was standing next to Eldridge when he was shot that day and is one of the other victims named in the indictment on the case.

The medical examiner and Renee Moore, the woman selling the property to Eldridge, testified. As well as Pamela Anderson, a woman who rendered aid and called 911 for Dylan.

Tessley Wells, Eldridge’s girlfriend, is taking the stand on Wednesday afternoon.