The trial of Rick Morrocco Williams, a 26-year-old accused of gunning down his two former roommates on North Charleston's Durant Avenue began today with both sides agreeing that he is responsible for killing Nathaniel Lonnie, 58, and Angela Ferguson, 44, on Dec. 31, 2010.
But just how it all went down is subject to dispute.
Prosecutors say Williams shot the couple in a fit of rage after Lonnie booted him from the house. The defense insists Williams acted in self-defense after Lonnie and Ferguson attacked him with a samurai sword and a box cutter.
A neighbor discovered the bodies of Lonnie and his longtime girlfriend sprawled on the floor of their home on Jan. 3 of last year. Attention quickly shifted to Williams, who had been staying at the home with his girlfriend, who was Lonnie's stepdaughter. Relatives have said the two men just didn't get along.
In his opening statement, Assistant Solicitor Michael Nelson told the jury that the men's bad blood boiled over when Williams was accused of stealing a neighbor's dog. Lonnie and Williams argued, and Lonnie told him to leave. On his way out, Williams grabbed a baseball bat and systematically smashed out the windows in Lonnie's mini-van, he said.
Lonnie chased him off with an old sword, but Williams later returned with a pistol and shot Lonnie and Ferguson, Nelson said. Each was killed with a single bullet to the head. Williams later bragged about the killing to his girlfriend, telling her to watch the TV news to see what he had done, he said.
"Two shots, two dead bodies -- for absolutely no reason other than he was angry as sin because the man who owned the house told him to get out," Nelson told the jury.
Williams' lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Beattie Butler, told a much different story. He acknowledged that Williams and Lonnie argued, and that Williams had smashed the windows of Lonnie's van in a moment of anger. But Butler said Williams later returned to the home not to seek revenge, but simply to collect his belongings.
Williams was in the process of gathering his things when Lonnie returned home and flew into an alcohol-fueled rage at seeing the young man back in his house, Butler said. Lonnie grabbed his steel-bladed samurai sword and left Williams with no choice in the small room but to fight or be "skewered, sliced or carved," he said.
Testimony in the trial resumes Tuesday morning.
Read more later at postandcourier.com and also in tomorrow's newspaper.