HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL)— The trial against a Harris County man accused of killing his neighbor resumed Wednesday.
The question left to jurors is not whether Johnnie Bryant shot and killed Dylan Eldridge in 2021, rather was it self-defense.
On Nov. 1, 2021, Johnnie Bryant shot and killed Dylan Eldridge before allegedly opening fire on two other individuals with him. Both sides agree it all stems from an ongoing property line dispute.
“This is not a case of self-defense. That’s because of this property line issue had gotten the defendant upset,” Assistant District Attorney Alessandro Raimondo told the jurors. “It’s been going on for a while and it just builds up to this one point. The deputies are coming out, not helping the defendant. So, he takes matters into his own hands, and he resolved this property line issue once and for all, himself.”
Bryant’s defense attorney argues it was self-defense, stating Eldridge had a history of intimidating Bryant by clutching a gun at his waist or over his shoulder.
“When Dylan leaned back in the golf cart, appeared to reach in his pants. My client feared for his life because remember they had been having this argument for a year and a half,” Jackie ‘The Fly Lawyer’ Patterson addressed. “At that point, my client, fearing that Dylan was going to shoot him, he decided he couldn’t wait to be shot, so he had no other option but to shoot Dylan.”
On the same day of the shooting, deputies testified Bryant’s wife, Ruby Bryant, had called the Harris County Sheriff Department to report trespass on her property.
“There was a complaint of a log splitter and a vehicle or a trailer on their property, and they wanted us to have it towed,” one Harris County Deputy testified.
However, the land Mrs. Bryant called about did not belong to the Bryant’s, but to a Jeff Moore according to the tax assessor’s office.
“Both individuals were very upset with that explanation that they… Mrs. Bryant made the accusation that it was because they were black, is why we wouldn’t help them,” another Harris County Deputy said. “I advised her that is not the case.”
At that point Bryant drove himself to the sheriff’s department asking to talk to Sheriff Mike Jolley, according to testimony. Instead, he spoke with Chief Deputy Chris Walden who advised him this was a civil matter and to resolve the issue, he should hire a land surveyor and take it to court. That was moments before the shooting happened.
“I remained in my office a short time later, I would say 10 minutes in my estimate,” Col. Walden said. “I heard a dispatch call out over a 911 system in reference to an individual being shot.”
Here’s how one eyewitness, and alleged victim James Blackmon, described the incident.
“I said, ‘hey, someone’s got a vehicle coming down the driveway,’ and [Dylan] said, ‘okay.’ So, him and Willie get on the golf cart. They just do a little circle. And they started going down the driveway and I’m right behind them in my truck with the trailer on the back of it,” Blackmon said. “And [Dylan] said, ‘It’s Johnnie,’ but [Johnnie] said, ‘Johnnie, nothing,’ and he just started firing out the window at the golf cart. I’m talking… I mean, it happened so fast, and I didn’t know what to do… he turned and fired at my truck. That’s all you heard was, ‘pow, pow, pow,’ like it wasn’t going to stop.”
After the shooting Eldridge drove his golf cart to the Sunnyside Community Club seeking help, witnesses testified no gun was found in his possession or on the golf cart.
Renee Moore who owned the land during the time took the stand Wednesday. She testified she and her husband were in the process of selling the land to Eldridge. They property closing was set to take place four days after the shooting.
Moore went on to say sometime after the shooting the land was sold to the Bryants.
Bryant himself is expected to take the witness stand Thursday morning.
Nov. 10, 2021: Suspect in court following Harris County fatal shooting