Bad drug deal led to 3-year-old’s death

Published 6:51 pm Thursday, April 29, 2010

An argument over the quality of marijuana sold to a Church Street resident resulted in the shooting that killed a 3-year-old Selma toddler, according to testimony during a bond hearing for two capital murder suspects held Thursday in Dallas County District Court.

Brandon Lewis, 24, and Aaron Lawrence Harris, 23, both of Selma, are charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Rosjah J. Butler Jr.

Butler bled to death after a bullet ripped through the walls of his house, tore through his chest and pierced the aorta, an artery leading to the heart. The child was pronounced dead Tuesday evening at Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

Email newsletter signup

Lewis and Harris are in the Dallas County Jail with no bond.

They were denied bond Thursday by District Judge Robert Armstrong after a hearing for each.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Armstrong said. “I would not think about giving either of you a bond.”

Armstrong said the entire community is “grieved and shocked about this.” The judge called the shooting into the house “outrageous” and “beyond belief.”

The two men arrived in court in shackles and jail-issue gray and white about 30 minutes before the hearings began. Courtroom security was tight with several deputies and Selma police detectives present. Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman also patrolled the courtroom.

Neither Lewis nor Harris spoke to one another as they sat side-by-side in the courtroom, waiting for the judge. Selma police detective Tory Neely came into the courtroom, pulled up a chair and quietly talked to the two suspects.

Armstrong appointed Ed Green, the former prosecutor, to defend Lewis.

Harris has hired attorney Bruce Maddox.

During the bond hearing Neely told the judge an altercation between the child’s uncle, Glenn Williams, and Harris developed when Williams wanted the $200 he paid for some marijuana back from Harris because the marijuana was of bad quality.

After the confrontation, which occurred at GWC Homes, Williams left and returned to 1411 Church Street. Harris borrowed a Dodge Intrepid from his brother and he and three others, including Lewis drove to Church’s Chicken on Broad Street, purchased some food, then drove over to Church Street, according to Neely.

The police detective said he interviewed Lewis, who claimed to have sat in the back seat of the vehicle on the passenger’s side. Lewis said Harris drove the vehicle, according to Neely’s testimony.

Two others believed to be in the Intrepid at the time of the shooting are Johnny Lee Dukes and Michael Dershawn Hunter. Authorities are searching for the two men, who police say are believed armed and dangerous.

Neely said Lewis alleged Dukes fired from the front passenger’s side of the car as Harris drove it down the street. The police detective said Lewis, Harris and an eyewitness in a car behind the Intrepid saw Williams return fire from the front yard.

Police recovered shell casings from the street and the yard. Detectives had yet to conduct an inventory on the Intrepid because the police recovered it while Neely and Walker were in court. The recovered shell casings were sent to the state crime laboratory for processing.

Under cross examination from Maddox, Neely said there was no evidence as of yet indicating Harris fired a shot during the event. “We’re still investigating,” the detective said.

Neely also testified he did not know how many shell casings were found outside the house, near where Williams stood.

During cross examination from Green, the police detective said no evidence had been discovered so far that would indicate Lewis fired a shot at the house.

Neely also testified he had yet to talk to Williams, who the detective described as “upset.”