Capital murder trial continues for man accused in 2018 Cherokee County shooting
RUSK, Texas (KLTV) - Forensic copies of four cell phones were examined today in the capital murder trial for one of two suspects accused of a 2018 murder in Cherokee County.
Cody Roberts is being tried for the shooting death of 18-year-old Trevor Lawson at a home west of Rusk.
Tuesday morning the state continued with their witnesses. In the courtroom, a man who ran forensic exams on four cell phones testified. He walked the jury through the process of making a forensic copy from phone information. He says the copy gets put on a sterile device and given to the lead detective. Information on the copy cannot be altered in any way; however, they can extract details from it. According to his testimony, the state had videos and chat messages extracted from one of the four phones. It was not clear whose phone information was extracted from.
Following his testimony, the state brought in Kristie Wixson, a Regional Organized Crime Information Center criminal intelligence analyst. Wixson testified that she helps create records and visual aids for investigators. In March 2019, Wixson was asked to do a cell tower analysis for this case by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Wixson testified that she looks for carrier records and checks the time zone of the relevant area. In this case, she said she got carrier records from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Wixson testified that she got information for nine different phone numbers and put together a PowerPoint with findings.
She walked the jury through that PowerPoint, which included information on incoming and outgoing calls and texts from the devices and what cell tower they were pinged on.
She began with information for Gary Lawson’s phone. According to Wixson’s testimony, Trevor Lawson’s last outgoing communication was at 4 a.m., Nov. 7, 2018, and pinged off a cell tower in Maydelle.
Wixson also talked about a TracPhone associated with the defendant, Cody Roberts. Records indicate that at 3:11 a.m. Roberts made a call to Trevor Lawson; then, at 4 a.m. Roberts’ phone received a text from Lawson.
Later, at 10:53 a.m. on Nov. 7, Roberts’ phone received a call from Alexis Banks. According to records, Wixson said Banks tried calling Roberts four times from 10:53 a.m. to 11:49 a.m. and another six times from 12:41 p.m. to 1:18 p.m.
Wixson then moved back in the timeline to discuss carrier records for Nov. 6 that she got from Sprint for Jontae Johnson, the second person charged with capital murder for this incident.
On Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., Johnson’s phone pinged closer to Rusk, not Maydelle. Wixson testified that on Nov. 7 from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. Johnson’s phone didn’t ping in Maydelle. Her records show pings in Rusk, Jacksonville, and on Highway 69.
Wixson then moved into Verizon records for Lawrence Mott’s phone. Between Nov. 6 and 7, records show his phone pinged in Maydelle, no other tower. At 6:40 p.m. on Nov. 6 calling activity was pinged on Mott’s phone. At 6:43 a.m. on Nov. 7 is the next call they have cell tower information for on Mott’s phone. Wixson said not all the carriers send every bit of phone activity.
Wixson moved on to talk about AT&T records from Patricia Mainess’ phone. From Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. to Nov. 7 (time not heard) her phone pinged calling activity in Maydelle and Rusk, according to Wixson’s testimony.
Next Wixson shared Verizon information from a TracPhone associated with Steven Davis. From Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. to Nov. 7 at 9:10 a.m., Davis’ phone pinged in Maydelle.
Next Wixson talked about Verizon records for Alexis Banks’ phone from Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. to Nov. 7 at 12 p.m. On November 7 at 11:15 a.m. and 11:53 a.m. Wixson says Banks’ made two calls to Roberts that pinged on a Maydelle tower. More Verizon records show Banks’ phone at 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 7 pinged north of Jacksonville. Wixson testified at 8 a.m. Banks’ phone pinged on a tower in Rusk and there was activity until 11:54 a.m.
After the state, the defense clarified with Wixson how accurate this information is. Wixson said she couldn’t determine the cell strength, but directions are correct as pings tracked locations of mobile devices in relation to towers.
The court was in recess until 1:30 p.m.
At 3:25 Tuesday afternoon state rested.
Defense will start Wednesday at 9 a.m. with witness Alexis Banks, a woman who was reportedly close to defendant Cody Roberts. The two at one point were going to “get serious.”
The judge said both sides need to be prepared for closing arguments as early as Wednesday afternoon. Jury could start deliberation Thursday depending on Wednesday’s proceedings.
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