COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The seventh day of a high-profile Columbus murder and gang trial focused heavily on the state trying to prove the three co-defendants are members of a Columbus criminal street gang.
Brothers Terrance and Homer Upshaw along with Roderick Glanton are facing multiple murder and gang charges.
They are accused in the June 2021 shooting death of 18-year-old Saiveon Pugh and 17-year-old Jesse Ransom.
The three co-defendants are all alleged to be members of the Marlo gang that operates in and around the Wilson Apartments. Their attorneys have denied it.
The two dead teenagers and two others in the car with them were members of the Zohannon criminal street gang.
Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeremy Hattaway told the jury that two years ago when Pugh and Ransom were gunned down there was a gang war going on in Columbus.
“They were going back and forth which resulted in violent assaults that resulted in the deaths of some of the gang members,” Hattaway said. “We started seeing a lot of retaliations – back and forth. That led to about 71 murders in Columbus since 2021.”
Hattaway brought the street-level perspective from Wilson Apartments, where this shooting happened.
“The gang itself (Marlo) had a beef with Zohannon based on some back-and-forth suspected murders,” Hattaway said.
Under questioning from lead prosecutor Cara Convery, Hattaway used example after example from the social media posts of the three co-defendants to make the gang case against them. Photos that were attributed to Glanton and the Upshaw brothers were shown to the jury for nearly an hour.
Hattaway explained the signs and significance of each one. At times, he even broke down the gang lingo for the jurors.
While Hattaway was making the case at street level, William Murdock, an investigator with the Attorney General’s Office, was taking a broader more general approach. He explained to the jury why gangs don’t take hold in more affluent neighborhoods.
“When you are talking about lower-income areas or very densely populated urban areas, it is much easier to control that territory. It seems like it would be odd, but it’s easier to control because more people can see you,” he said. “The more they see you, the more they see what you are doing, and the more that they see nobody’s doing anything about it, the more likely they are to respect you out of fear.”
The case resumes Wednesday morning with the state still calling witnesses.