Archie Quinn sits in court Tuesday afternoon in Starkville. Quinn is on trial for fatally shooting a woman in 2008. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff
July 30, 2014 10:37:46 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains profanity/vulgarity that some readers may find offensive.
A murder victim's 911 call for help was the highlight of the capital murder trial of Starkville resident Archie Quinn Tuesday.
Quinn, 49, is accused of fatally shooting 35-year-old Stacy Gray in 2008 after breaking into the mobile home she shared with her boyfriend, Terry Johnson.
Prosecutors allege the murder took place in the commission of a felony, elevating the murder charge to capital murder.
In addition to shooting Gray, Quinn also shot Johnson. Johnson survived the shooting. After the incident, Quinn shot himself in the face with a shotgun in front of Oktibbeha County Sheriff's deputies.
Last year, a judge deemed Quinn mentally competent to stand trail.
Opening arguments were held Tuesday and the prosecution began presenting its case later in the day.
During opening arguments, Quinn's attorney, Mark Williamson, said his client should be charged with manslaughter rather than capital murder. Williamson said Quinn and Gray were in a relationship. When Quinn learned she was cheating on him, he reacted in "the heat of passion."
The state's witnesses Tuesday included Johnson, the Oktibbeha County E-911 Director, the forensic pathologist who conducted Gray's autopsy and two deputies who responded to the scene.
The jury, made up of 11 females and three males, first heard Johnson's recount of the events leading up to the shooting.
Johnson said he and Gray first began dating around 2001 or 2002. Gray was also dating Quinn at the time, Johnson said.
Several weeks before the shooting, Gray moved from Quinn's home to Johnson's.
On the night of the incident, Johnson and Gray went to the Golden Moon Casino in Philadelphia. While the pair was at the casino, Johnson's ex-wife repeatedly called Johnson to tell him that Quinn was looking for Gray.
Johnson's ex-wife then gave Johnson's cell phone number to Quinn, who called Johnson looking for Gray. Johnson said he told Quinn that Gray wasn't with him. Later in the evening, Quinn showed up at the Golden Moon and approached Johnson and Gray at the slot machines. Johnson said the three had a conversation but noted that it wasn't emotional or angry.
"It was just like me and you talking now," he said to Assistant District Attorney Mark Jackson.
Johnson said Quinn said he wasn't concerned with the fact that he and Gray were no longer dating.
Hours after returning home from the casino, Johnson said he and Gray were asleep in bed when Gray woke him up. She heard a car horn outside the mobile home and told Johnson, "I think that's Archie acting a fool."
Johnson said Gray went back to sleep but he stayed awake. A short while later, the phone rang from a Clayton Village phone number. When Johnson answered, Quinn was on the other end of the line.
"Hey man, I been down to your house, y'all must be sleeping hard," Quinn allegedly said to Johnson. Johnson said Quinn wanted to bring Gray's belongings by the couple's home. Noting the fact that it was around 6 a.m., Johnson told Quinn it was too early and they would get her things later.
A short time after the phone call, however, Quinn showed up outside the mobile home. Johnson said he went to the kitchen window and spoke to Quinn who was in the front yard unloading Gray's belongings from his car. Quinn told Johnson he and Gray needed to come outside and collect her things. Johnson said he told Quinn he was not going to come outside, again noting the early morning hour.
The exchange was originally calm but became heated, Johnson said. Johnson then moved from the window to a sliding glass door at the front of the home. A gunshot went off and Johnson was struck in the hip. Johnson said he initially heard three shots, one right after the other.
As he retreated from the door, Johnson said Gray came out into the hallway screaming.
"I couldn't get her to stop screaming," he said. "I told her, 'If you stop screaming, he probably won't know what room we're in,' but the shots was steadily going off."
The two ran down the hallway and Gray went into the master bathroom and climbed into the shower stall. She begged Johnson to join her but he said he told her, "One of us has to leave to get some help."
The gunfire briefly stopped, signaling to Johnson that Quinn was on his way inside the home.
Johnson said he crawled through a small window and made it out just as Quinn began shooting again.
"I don't know how I made it out," he said. "It was by the grace of God."
Johnson then ran across a field to the neighbor's house where he called 911. Johnson told dispatchers that Quinn was inside his home with Gray but said, "I don't guess he's shooting her."
He testified, "My mind was, he would have killed me but he cared too for her to shoot her. I felt he wasn't going to hurt her. I figured he was just going to scare her and make her go with him."
Inside the home, Quinn allegedly found Gray hiding in the bathroom.
She called 911 from her cell phone but did not speak with dispatchers. The call stayed connected as Quinn was shooting her.
A copy of the 911 call was played for jurors. Listen to the audio of the 911 calls here. (extremely graphic language and content)
On the tape, Quinn can be heard screaming at Gray, "You're going to die m----------r. (Gunshot) Who's f-----g who? You f-----d me. Now who's f------g who, b----? (Gunshot) You ready to die? You gone die, g------n it. (gunshot)"
Gray can be heard moaning on the tape against the background of gunshots. As the tape was being played, members of Gray's family broke down in tears.
Quinn's family sat motionless.
After the tape was played, jurors heard from deputies who described their encounter with Quinn moments after he shot Gray.
According to former deputy Andrew Fountain, Quinn left the scene and was driving down West Sand Creek Road when he saw deputies. Deputies blocked his way and Quinn got out of the car with a shotgun. As deputies took cover, Quinn went behind his car and shot himself in the face with a shotgun, the deputies said.
After the scene was secured and deputies were certain the injured Quinn no longer posed a threat, EMTs were permitted to enter the scene of the shooting.
Fountain described the inside of the home. "It was obvious something had gone on," he said. "It looked like a crime scene. The drapes were pulled down...there were bullet holes in the walls...It was horrible."
A lifeless Gray was discovered in the bathroom. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Adele Lewis testified that Gray had been shot in the forehead with a shotgun, in the left side of her face with a 9 mm. She also had been shot on her hand and in her abdomen.
Crime scene photos revealed a blood-splattered bathroom with a busted shower door as well as spent shotgun shells.
Testimony continues this morning. The state rested its case after testimony from a ballistics expert who testified that the shotgun and the 9mm handgun found at the scene were used in Gray's death.
The defense moved for a directed verdict after the state rested its case. In a criminal case, once the prosecution has rested its case the defendant may move for a directed verdict, which -- if granted -- would mean a "not guilty" verdict.
Judge Lee Howard denied the motion and informed Quinn of his right to testify. Despite repeated questions directed to Quinn by Howard, Quinn did not respond.
The defense began its case at 10:15 a.m. today.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.