Testimony Underway In Clayton Triple Murder Trial - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Testimony Underway In Clayton Triple Murder Trial

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - The sounds of screams and gunshots stunned a Shelby County Criminal courtroom audience on Tuesday.

Shelby County prosecutors opened their case in a triple murder trial with the dramatic 9-1-1 audio tape.

Sedrick Clayton is accused of shooting his girlfriend to death and then killer her parents in 2012.

MORE: Sister of murder suspect questions Shelby Co. DA
MORE: Triple shooting trial to start in Memphis

As expected Clayton's defense attorney faces an uphill battle against a mountain of evidence.

Until that fatal day Clayton had never had a major brush with law enforcement other than traffic tickets.

So what would motivate such a man to make his first major criminal offense which prosecutors allege was a violent and remorseless triple murder?

Now six men and six women will decide if Clayton's first crime will be the last he'll commit the rest of his life.

With a packed courtroom of media, law enforcement and relatives of the victims and the defendant, before the jury entered, Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Blackett immediately established the gravitas of the proceedings in the death penalty trial against Clayton.

“This is not a show," Judge Blackett said. "This is not something that's a performance. This not a TV show. This is reality."

But, the triple-shooting inside their home of Pashea Fisher and her parents, Arithio and Patricia in January of 2012, was even more horrific than any bloody scenario a crime writer could ever try to describe in fiction. Squarely staring down the accused 31-year-old murderer Clayton, Shelby County Domestic Violence Prosecutor Karen Cook, wasted no time in setting the stage for emotional fireworks with her opening statement.

MORE: Triple Homicide in South Memphis (2012)
MORE: Death Penalty Sought in Triple Murder (2012)

“'Sed! Don't kill my parents! Don't kill my parents! Rico call 9-1-1!,'" Cook said. "Those are some of the last words Pashea Fisher uttered in her lifetime. Before the defendant Sedrick Clayton put a bullet in her head. The only person who fired that gun, not once, not twice, not three times, four times -- five times had to even get another cartridge casing into his gun."

Facing a mountain of physical and forensic evidence and his client's own previous confession to police on the same day of the shooting, criminal defense attorney Gerald Skahan opted to take a measured tone with the jury in his opening statement. He broached the idea; Clayton's actions were spurred by passion and provocation that might warrant a lesser conviction from jurors along lines of manslaughter.

“We submit that if you do find that another crime was committed that it is not premeditated first degree murder,” Skahan asserted.

However, the prosecution's first witness of the trial, 9-1-1 operator Katie Montgomery, helped set the scene for a visibly devastating one-two punch to the defendant. Montgomery initially took an open call during the shooting from the Fisher residence while at the same time another emergency call came in from the surviving member of the shootings, Pashea's brother Rico Fisher. Both calls were recorded.

Katie Montgomery who answered Fishers' 9-1-1 call says, “Nobody was talking to me. I just heard those two screaming in the back. And there was a small child there. She was crying.”

Gun pops. Woman screaming.

Phone rings twice. "What is the nature of the emergency?" "I have three people shot at my house." "Sir?" "I have three people shot inside my house."

"I think one in the chest ... one shot in the side and my sister, she's shot in her head."

Some family members from both sides briefly left the courtroom immediately after the audio tapes were played.
The last person in Shelby County to be found guilty of murder and sentenced to death was James Hawkins, Jr. in 2011 who murdered and dismembered his girlfriend Charlene Gaither.

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