Trial begins in 2017 shooting death of Tyler man

Martin Wesley Reynolds Jr. (Source: Smith County Judicial records)
Martin Wesley Reynolds Jr. (Source: Smith County Judicial records)
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:09 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:23 AM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Monday morning a Whitehouse man accused of shooting and killing a Tyler man in November of 2017 was in the 114th District Court court in front of Judge Reeve Jackson.

Martin Wesley Reynolds, Jr., 24, is facing a trial by jury.

The prosecution led with what they said was a sad story and pretty simple: in the morning hours of Nov. 4 and 5 there was a fight on the phone. Reynolds borrowed a 357 Magnum and bummed a ride.

According to the state, the first shot was birdshot and that was what lead up to Andrew Carpenter’s last moment on Earth after receiving two gunshots to the chest. The state continued that the jury would hear from witnesses on both ends, from first responders, and that the jury would hear about a prank call at a party.

As the defense started their opening arguments the defense attorney said that he agreed with one thing the prosecution said and that is that it was a sad day that started with the phone ringing. The defense continued that Carter initiated the argument over the phone and was saying rude offenses at a house party.

The defense attorney said Carter was irate and going through a jealous rage threatening Reynolds. Before Reynolds headed to Carpenter’s residence, Reynolds was told to take a gun by a third party.

The party was at a double-wide trailer that was a social gathering place, and Carpenter had been drinking since noon and that he had a 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle, and a pistol in his possession, the defense attorney said.

The defense also claimed that Reynolds was driven to the party by one of the witnesses and that when they arrived Reynolds had a beer in his hands.

The defense team made the argument that Reynolds did not murder Carpenter and that Reynolds’ actions were in self-defense.

“I intend to show that Martin Reynolds didn’t murder Drew Carpenter, he stopped Drew Carpenter from murdering him,” the defense attorney said. “What was he supposed to do, die? What was he supposed to do, get shot again?”

The state then called its first witness, an emergency dispatcher with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office before playing the 911 call recording made immediately after Martin Reynolds and Andrew Carpenter were shot. The dispatcher takes the woman on the phone through a process of tending to Carpenter as emergency personnel are dispatched to the scene, including how to perform CPR.

State then calls the Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was dispatched to the scene of the incident. The deputy says details regarding a scene are often minimal or may not match what has actually happened. The deputy said he knew there was a shooting of some kind but didn’t know the specifics.

The defense then questioned the deputy. The deputy said he did not know who did what and when. He said he did not interview Reynolds.

State then calls Whitehouse police officer Michael Osorio who recounted which weapons he found on the porch, noting he moved a pistol onto the railing.

The defense asked if Osorio inspected weapons to note if loaded. He answered he did not look in the chamber of them but he saw that pistol still had a magazine in it.

Smith County Sheriff’s Office Detective Travis Breazeale found 1 spent casing from a shotgun.

Crime scene photos show blood stains from the front door into the bedroom where CPR was performed.

Breazeale said he found a “projectile” on the front porch, the bullet impacted the front door and fell onto the porch after previous impact with or passing through another object. He noted that birdshot was what was fired from the shotgun.

The defense questioned Breazeale who confirmed that weapons on the porch could all be lethal and all were loaded with a round in the chamber. Confirms there was another shell in the shotgun chamber after a shot had been fired.

The state noted the placement of beer bottles and spent shell casings in photos. Brezeale said he found no spent casings from pistol or hunting rifle. Photos were shown of the blood trail and Breazeale said it’s not uncommon for there to not be a lot of blood from a gunshot wound as was the case here as the victim was brought inside.

Following the lunch break, the state called its next two witnesses, Hayleigh Vaughn and Jarred Wells, the two primary occupants of the residence where the incident took place. Both testified that they were out driving in Tyler when Wells received a phone call from another person who also lived at the house stating that some kind of altercation was impending between Carpenter and Reynolds, though both said they did not know the nature of the argument between the two men. Wells said that by the time he and Vaughn had arrived at their home, Carpenter had already showed up uninvited and had apparently brought three guns with him: a pistol, a hunting rifle and the pump-action shotgun which he later used to shoot Reynolds in the leg. Wells also testified that he initially told Reynolds not to come to the house, but if Reynolds insisted on going over there, he should wait for Wells to arrive.

Vaughn and Wells both testified that they attempted to defuse the situation by making small talk with Carpenter before Reynolds arrived, however Vaughn said they were unable to completely calm him down.

Wells testified that it wasn’t unusual for either Carpenter or Reynolds to be at his home as both were “always welcome” and were frequent visitors independently. Wells also noted that, had he been aware of Carpenter’s intent to go to his home, he would have told Carpenter the same thing he told Reynolds: Don’t come over.

Wells and Vaughn testified that Carpenter, while seated on the elevated porch of the residence, stood up and pointed his shotgun at Reynolds immediately upon spotting Reynolds walking up the driveway, shouting, “Martin!” as he did so. Wells and Vaughn also both said that Reynolds did not appear to have a gun in either hand as he approached the porch steps.

Wells said that he did not believe that Reynolds arrived at his home “looking for a fight” and that in his experience Reynolds was not someone who quickly resorted to violence and often would prefer to talk things out first. However, he also admitted that he did not know whether either Reynolds or Carpenter said something to provoke the other.

Regarding the actual shootings, Wells and Vaughn both testified that they did not believe Carpenter intended to kill Reynolds because he was aiming too low and, given the short distance between the two of them, as well as Carpenter’s elevated position, it would have been nearly impossible to miss with an intended killshot. However, both stated that Carpenter shot first and did so while Reynolds was not brandishing a weapon in either hand. Vaughn and Wells said Reynolds did not grab his gun and open fire until after Carpenter had fired off a round from the shotgun.

Related story: Trial date reset for Whitehouse man accused in 2017 shooting death

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