COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The street culture inside a Columbus public housing complex became the subject of a high-profile gang and murder trial happening in Superior Court.
Columbus resident Juanyae Baldwin testified Monday in the Wilson Apartments gang and murder trial. 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.
Prosecutors asked McBride for Baldwin’s face not to be shown on local media as he took the witness stand this afternoon.
McBride granted the request but did allow audio of the testimony.
That’s what you are about to hear. He called the police on June 12th, 2021 to report a drive-by shooting “on the other side of the tracks” near Wilson Apartments, a public housing complex off Veterans Parkway near River Road.
He identified Jesse Ransom as one of the people responsible for that shooting. And told the jury he identified Ransom as such in a meeting with police at a local fast-food restaurant the next day.
On June 14, 2021, Ransom and Pugh died in a hail of gunfire coming from near a house on the edge of Wilson Apartments. The defense has said that the two were preparing to do a drive-by shooting on a known drug house where the Upshaw brothers and Glanton were believed to have operated.
Baldwin heard the gunfire that killed Ransom and Pugh. Here’s part of what he had to say today when questioned by prosecutor Cara Convery. The prosecutor asked about the June 12th, 2021 drive-by shooting and why Baldwin called the police.
Here is a part of that exchange.
Convery: “Calling the police in a situation like this, from your perspective, was that a pretty big deal that you called the police?”
Baldwin: “Yeah, you know around the hood, s—, folks don’t like snitches. But you know, hey I look at it I was looking after my family.”
Convery: “Explain to me how it’s snitching if you are calling about something that happened to you?”
Baldwin: “When you give the police somebody’s name, it’s snitching. …”
Baldwin denied knowing that the house just outside Wilson Apartments was a drug house. He, instead, called it a “party house.” He said he had never seen drugs dealt from that residence.
Here’s what he said when Convery asked him about drug sales inside Wilson Apartments.
Convery: “Are you familiar enough with Wilson to know if you drive our there can you buy drugs? Is it uncommon to buy drugs at Wilson?
Convery: “It’s common or it’s uncommon?”
Convery: “How do you know where to go?”
Baldwin: “You can go anywhere.”
Convery: “Anywhere in Wilson?”
Baldwin said he knew Homer Upshaw well, called him his “homeboy.”
When asked by defense attorneys if the Upshaw Brothers and Glanton were in a gang, Baldwin answered no.
The prosecution has said everyone involved in this case – the co-defendants and the victims were criminal street gang members.
The case is being prosecuted by the special Gang Prosecution Unit out of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. Convery is the leader of that unit.
Homer Upshaw is being represented by Columbus attorney William Kendrick. Multiple law enforcement witnesses have been on the witness stand throughout the trial. Kendrick has contended this was self-defense before the victims were able to carry out a drive-by shooting. He continues to point to the guns and masks found in the victims’ vehicle in his questioning.
Columbus attorney Shevon Thomas II is representing Terrance Upshaw and Allen Jones is the attorney for Glanton.
Jones is facing his own legal issues. He is no longer allowed to practice law in Alabama. He was arrested earlier this year and changed with bringing contraband — drugs and cell phones — into the Muscogee County Jail. District Attorney Stacey Jackson told WRBL last month that the contraband case is still under investigation for possible gang connections.
The trial will resume Tuesday morning. The prosecution is expected to call gang experts to testify.
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