COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A high-profile Columbus gang and double-murder case is now in the hands of 12 jurors – eight men and four women.
After a full day of closing arguments on Monday, Judge Gil McBride put the fates of Roderick Glanton and brothers Terrance and Homer Upshaw in the hands of the jury just before 5 p.m. The jurors decided quickly to go home for the night. Deliberations resume at 9 on Tuesday morning.
The Upshaw brothers and Glanton are accused in the June 2021 shooting death of 18-year-old Saiveon Pugh and 17-year-old Jesse Ransom.
From the beginning attorneys for the Upshaw brothers and Glanton have contended this was a clear-cut case of self-defense. They say the victims were four Zohannon gang members there for a drive-by shooting, making multiple passes in front of the house.
That’s not the picture the prosecution painted in two hours of arguments. Lead prosecutor Cara Convery told the jury a video of the shooting shows what went down on June 12, 2021, at Wilson Apartments, a public housing complex off Veterans Parkway near River Road.
That video was taken by surveillance cameras mounted on Wilson Apartment buildings.
“This case from the defense perspective is about asking you to give them a permission slip for murder,” Convery told the jury. “Because it’s hard. Because the evidence is challenging. Because it’s Wilson, meaning there are gangs out there and there’s conflict. So, you got to be prepared to shoot at a car that goes by. Because it’s messy. Because of the way fear looks in real life on the stand because it’s not a TV show, it’s not a movie. Because the victims were not perfect, because they made bad choices. They were in a gang. Whatever you want to insert there.”
Kendrick called the prosecution’s assertion that the four Zohannon gang members in the Dodge Dart were looking for “girls” was laughable and a lie.
“I found out the girl that they were looking for,” he told the jury. “Did y’all hear that? That’s right, I found her. I was thinking about it over the weekend. Her name was Trouble.”
That drew laughter from at least one juror.
“That’s what they were looking for — a girl named Trouble,” Kendrick said. “And they found her. They found her. That’s what my Mama taught me, you go looking for trouble, you find it.
The closing arguments lasted for nearly six hours with the prosecution and all three defense attorneys having a say.
Glanton’s attorney tried to throw a monkey wrench into the case by saying he had discovered a muzzle flash coming from the car that the victims were in. The prosecution dismissed that out of hand, saying it was a taillight.
The state says everyone from the victims to the alleged shooters was in criminal street gangs. The defense contended the state did not prove the gang charges.
Convery couched the shooting this way.
“This was a tactical shooting position at the house – on their stairs and the far stairs,” Convery said. “They turned the lights back on. And they lit this car up. There were four people inside this car. Four super-imperfect people. Four young people. Who made their own seriously stupid decisions. But who did not deserve to die.”
The defense repeatedly throughout the two-week trial in which the defendants are facing a host of murder, gang, gun, and aggravated assault charges pointed to masks and guns found in the vehicle as evidence of the attempted drive-by shooting.
Kendrick donned a mask during the closing to make his point.
“If I walked through Miss Convery’s neighborhood like this … hey, hey, hey, hey … why the mask? Something ain’t right. Miss Gray, anybody in the courtroom, one pass no problem, well, may he just, I don’t know … something ain’t right. Two-pass… what are we really doing? What are we really doing? Three passes. Put the women and children to bed. Get them out of here. It’s a about to go down,” Kendrick said.