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Appeals court upholds ‘07 murder conviction
Polk County Enterprise - August 2008

BEAUMONT — Kevin Rashawn Wright’s murder conviction and 50-year sentence by a Polk County jury in 2007 was affi rmed this week by the 9th District Court of Appeals in Beaumont. Wright was found guilty of murder for the shooting death of Clayton Junior (Junior Boy) Jones in 2006 even though the shots were fi red by co-defendant Jackie Welch. District Judge Robert Hill Trapp instructed the jury that under Texas’ law of parties someone is criminally responsible for the actions of another person if they solicit, encourage, direct, aid or attempt to aid the other person to commit the offense. On May 13, 2006 Wright was living in Houston and returned a telephone call from his sister Angela Chambers. Angela told him that her boyfriend Junior Boy had physically assaulted her during an argument. Wright had planned to come to Livingston for Mother’s Day and saw Jackie Welch (who Wright had known as “D Black” for about two months). Wright told Welch about the couple’s fi ght and that he was going “to the country” to see his mother. Welch asked to go along to shoot his pistol, court records show. Angela picked up the two men her brother a bite mark and bruises. All three later drove through the “west end” of Livingston and spotted Jones with several other people. Although Welch told investigators during two recorded interviews that he wanted to “have words” with Jones or “knock a tooth out or two,” they drove on to Wright’s grandfather’s house. Both men shot Welch’s gun into the woods.

They ran out of bullets and attempted to buy more at Wal-Mart but they were refused since they did not have identification. Wright then went and got his cousin Reginald who is shown on security video making the purchase. Later in the afternoon, Wright, Welch, Chambers, Reginald, and a couple of children were outside Wright’s mother’s house. Jones drove up, walked up to the porch and began arguing with Angela. Jones walked off the porch and threatened to come back and “set it off”. Wright started to follow Jones. Welch (who was sitting in Angela’s vehicle) and Jones had words and Welch shot Jones several times. Wright says he had no idea Welch would shoot Jones. After the shooting, Wright dragged Jones close to the ditch across the street from his mother’s house.

He and Wright drove back to Houston. Welch was dazed and kept saying “I (did) it for you, man” during the trip. The court found that testimony from Reginald corroborated Wright’s video statements. At 4:45 a.m. the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Angela Chambers reporting “a drunk guy in the ditch.” Deputy William Jerry could not locate anyone in the ditch at first. After getting the caller’s address from dispatch, Jerry went and asked Angela where the person was and she pointed toward the person. Jerry found Jones dead in the ditch. Dr. Kathryn Haden-Pinneri with the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office testified that Jones died from multiple gunshot wounds. She identified seven separate wounds during the autopsy. Wright’s appeal challenged the sufficiency of the evidence proving that he participated as a party.

The appeals court decision sates that the verdict would be set aside only if (1) the evidence is so weak that the fact-finder’s determination is clearly wrong and unjust or (2) the verdict is against the greater weight and preponderance of the evidence. The appeal argued that there is no evidence that he solicited, encouraged, directed, aided or attempted to aid Welch in murdering Jones. The appeal further claims that there was no evidence (1) that the bullets fired by Welch actually caused Jones’ death; (2) the caliber of the spent projectiles recovered during autopsy; (3) that the spent projectiles were fired from the same gun; (4) where Jones went after the shooting; (5) how Jones got from Kevin’s mother’s yard to the ditch and (6) how Jones received his post-mortem injuries. Reginald testified that he heard at least six shots from the 9 millimeter Welch had. He saw Welch fall to the ground and identified Welch as the shooter.

Welch admitted shooting Jones. Pinneri testified that at least one of the shots would have been a “fairly instantly fatal injury.” Wright testified he saw Jones take his last breath and admitted moving the body by himself in videotaped statements to investigators. Pinneri identified insect activity, decomposition and a broken left arm as Jones’ postmortem injuries. She testified that the broken arm occurred during transport of the body from the crime scene to the examiner’s office and that it most likely resulted from the difficulty in getting his body, which was muscular and in a state of rigor mortis, into the body bag. Jones also had swelling and bruising around his right eye, and she could not determine whether it occurred around the time of the gunshots.

In response to questions during trial Pinneri said the injuries are consistent with an injury sustained in a fight the night before. Other witnesses had testified they saw Jones in a fight at the Big Man club near Leggett the night before his death. The appeals court found that the jury had heard Wright admit that he went looking for Jones in the West End. Trial testimony also showed that Welch moved to the back of the vehicle when the argument began on the porch. The jury could have reasonably believed that Wright, either by words or agreement, encouraged Welch in murdering Jones. “The evidence is legally and factually sufficient to support the jury’s verdict,” Justice David Gaultney said in his opinion for the court.

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