ANGLETON — A Brazoria County jury went into deliberations Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of Avris Ramon Daggs Jr., 20, a week after his trial began.
The jury broke for the day after just a couple hours and will continue discussing the case this morning.
A packed courtroom listened intently to the closing arguments from both the defense and prosecution in the conclusion of the trial where if convicted, Daggs faces up to life in prison for the first-degree felony.
Daggs, 20, is one of four co-conspirators prosecutors say went to a Clute apartment on July 21, 2017, and attempted to rob it of money and drugs that were seen on Snapchat when Michael “Mikey” Holmes, 18, was shot six times and killed.
After 412th District Judge Justin Gilbert read the jury the charge, the defense and prosecution offered their final statements over the course of a couple of hours.
The Law of Parties was particularly noted by prosecutor Josh Golden and defense attorney Mike Diaz, both of whom pored over the definition, imploring the jury to interpret its meaning and look at the facts.
“Daggs was there — he participated and partook — he is just as guilty and that’s why his name is in here,” Golden said. “I can’t hammer home enough the way the law of parties works. … If he was a party to that offense, he is just as guilty. … Don’t let Mikey Holmes get lost in this case. (Daggs and co-conspirators) made sure that he would never be able to sit in the stand and tell you what happened.”
The Law of Parties indicates that presence alone is not enough to convict. However, if there’s intent to cause a felony and another felony, like murder, occurs, all parties to that offense could be charged and convicted of that crime, according to Texas law.
Diaz asserted the prosecutors failed to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Daggs was a party to the 2017 offense in any way.
“Follow the law, it’s not always easy,” Diaz told the jury. “The state is saying we don’t know, so let’s assume (Daggs) was a party. … The other thing that should jump out at you is the lesser charge of aggravated robbery. What evidence did the state give to you that he was a party to that? Mere presence alone will not make one a party. …The law is clear. What did the state bring us?”
Defense attorney Aaron Perry continued to argue law enforcement conducted a flawed investigation, led by Detective Sgt. Chris DuBois, who testified last week.
Dubois listened in the courtroom as Perry dissected his investigation.
“There’s a lot in this investigation that wasn’t immediately told to us,” Perry said. “As citizens of this county, you should really think about (the) testimony. … Where are the people in the (apartment from the evening of the incident)? Where are they? Why are they keeping this evidence from you? (Daggs) is on trial for murder and they don’t want to talk to the people in the (apartment)? That should scare you. … This is not how you do a murder investigation. ... This was a screwup and it’s absolutely pathetic how this was done.”
During the trial, three of four teens in the Clute apartment at the time of the attempted robbery in 2017 did not testify in the case, Perry pointed out.
“I think the thing that bothers me most about this case is that you’ve got multiple suspects but you want to make giant, sweeping assertions,” Perry said. “In this courtroom and in this country, we don’t go on speculation, we go on evidence. A lot of leaps are made in this case. … Don’t reward Clute PD, don’t reward the shady evidence that was admitted if they’re not gonna do it right. … It’s the state’s burden beyond reasonable doubt, and they did not show that.”
Prosecutor Sam Klein was quick to remind the jury of Daggs’ inconsistent statements when he was interviewed by Clute detectives on two separate occasions in August 2017.
“Let’s not get emotional, let’s pretend that an 18-year-old isn’t dead and let’s call a 17-year old — a grown man — a kid,” Klein told the jury. “What else is evidence? Everything everyone said. It’s all hearsay, they said? Obviously they want you to forget it because it’s bad for their client. We aren’t running from the fact that we don’t have any physical evidence connecting Daggs to the apartment.”
Klein told the jurors that Daggs’ statements to DuBois incriminated him as a party to the crime of killing Holmes when he said he knew Jevon Stone was responsible for the shooting during a recorded interview at the Brazoria County Jail. She also told the jury that Daggs said he knew there was an intended robbery that evening, though he maintained he stayed in Stone’s car.
Stone pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in November to 30 years in prison.
Messiah King was charged with murder in the shooting death of Holmes and is awaiting trial; Jordan Pena is charged with aggravated robbery for the incident and is also awaiting trial.
Jury deliberation will continue this morning at 9 a.m. at the Brazoria County Courthouse at 111 E. Locust St.