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UPDATE: 02/05/18 6:30 P.M.

The Upatoi Triple Murder Trial is in recess until Tuesday morning after a packed first day of trial. The prosecution and defense wasted no time in opening statements going through the mountain of evidence we expect to see for an against Rufus Burks.

The first witness to take the stand included a Columbus police officer in charge of the 911 call center. He authenticated an audio recording of Robert Short’s frantic 911 call after he came home from work the morning of January 4, 2016 to find his wife, son and granddaughter violently beaten to death.

Robert Short then took the stand himself to go over what he saw that morning and authenticate photos of his family.

Prosecutors asked Robert and Caleb’s sister, Gianna’s mother Shermika Averett to identify clothing and shoes that belonged to Caleb. Prosecutors said during opening statements they intedn to prove the defendants took these items from Caleb’s room after the murders.

UPDATE: 02/05/18 5:30 P.M.

Testimony now underway in the Upatoi Triple Murder Trial, revealing some gruesome new details.

Both sides delivered opening statements first thing, detailing the mountain of evidence against Rufus Burks, Jervarceay Tapley and Reheam Gibson. The state told jurors they would hear from Gibson as a witness for the defense and see hundreds of evidence photos from what first responders saw on the scene to photos of the defendants wearing clothes that belonged to the victim Caleb Short.

In contrast, the defense asked jurors to keep an open mind when viewing the violent images and to place responsibility on Jervarceay Tapley who entered a guilty plea last week.

“The conversation they had says Chief Assistant District Attorney Alonzo Whitaker.

‘Did you see the news?’
‘Yeah.’ … “
“‘Call me,’ says Rufus.
Jervarceay, “I can’t, I’m with the family. Don’t snitch.
Keep quiet about what we did.'”

“We’re not here to ask who did this. we’re not here to figure it out, who killed Gloria short, Caleb short and Ginna Lindsey. We know that. We know Jervarceay Tapley killed those family members. … those text messages and phone records, we expect to support that Mr. Burks wasn’t there, and that he didn’t know what Jervarceay Tapley was capable of,” says Defense Attorney Jennifer Curry.

After that we heard from the first witnesses of the case.


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Opening statements will begin Monday morning in the Upatoi Triple Murder Trial. 

Three members of a family were gruesomely beaten and stabbed to death in January 2016. The lives of a grandmother, a teenage boy, and a young girl were brutally brought to an end in a senseless act of violence. 17-year-old Rufus Burks is now the lone defendant in the trail. 

Family members of Gloria Short, Caleb Short, and Gianna Lindsey waited two years for this day to come. 

Jury selection wrapped up on Friday –locking in twelve jurors and four alternates after a week’s worth of questioning to narrow down the pool of prospects. 

Judge Gil McBride instructed the new jury to make sure they stay impartial. That means no media coverage, avoid the topic on social media, and talking about it with anyone. The prosecution and defense have made several motions to Judge McBride about the evidence that will be put on display starting Monday. We expect to see photos of the scene and the defendants following the murders. One defendant –21-year-old Raheam Gibson is set to be one of the first 10 witnesses for the prosecution as part of the plea deal. 

WRBL’s Mikhaela Singleton will be in the courtroom live tweeting the developments throughout the trial. Follow WRBL News 3 on twitter and visit our website WRBL.com to stay up to date on this case.

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