The capital murder trial for one of two Red Oak men charged with the 2017 shooting death of a 17-year-old began Tuesday morning in the 40th District Court of Ellis County.
The morning opened with Jude Shawn Vaughn, 20, pleading not guilty to the charges of capital murder and murder for the death of Gabriel Richie, 17. Trevis LaDavion Baudoin, who fired the handgun and killed Richie on Nov. 14, 2017, had previously accepted a plea deal in November that sentenced the 20-year-old to life in prison without parole.
Baudoin rejected the same deal offered by Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Timothy Rogers, who was appointed as the special prosecutor in the matter.
Records from the Ellis County Clerk's Office show that the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office has agreed to waive the death penalty in the punishment phase in the event Vaughn is found guilty.
The trial was delayed by a half hour due to one of the jurors communicating to 40th District Judge Bob Carroll that he or she was in an anxious state, causing uncontrollable vomiting and crying. An alternate juror was later selected and the jury was sworn in at 10:35 a.m.
Tarrant County prosecutor Julie Harbin delivered the opening remarks to the jury on behalf of the State of Texas and discussed the charges against Vaughn. She explained to the jury that it was Vaughn who initially contacted Richie to meet with him and Baudoin so that the 17-year-old could purchase marijuana from the two.
However, Harbin explained Vaughn and Baudoin instead had intentions to rob the 17-year-old.
She continued by resetting the day of the incident, which unfolded in front of the home Richie lived in with his mother and other family members in the 200 block of Cambridge Street in Waxahachie.
Harbin informed the jurors that the drug deal quickly turned into a robbery, in which Richie refused to give up his cell phone as Vaughn patted him down. His reluctance to give up the cell phone then forced Baudoin to brandish a firearm and point it at him. Richie then exited the vehicle and made his way toward the home.
It was then that Baudoin shot Richie in the back.
“No 17-year-old should be shot in the back and killed for refusing to give up his cell phone,” Harbin said. “He wasn’t found for three hours until the neighbor found him. And instead of calling the police, [Vaughn] went back home and played video games.”
Harbin argued that the case revolves around two questions: Did Baudoin intentionally murder Gabriel, and should Vaughn have anticipated Baudoin would kill Gabriel?
Harbin said the answer to both questions is "yes."
“They cannot get around their statements,” Harbin said to the jurors. “And they can’t get around what they told police.”
Vaughn’s defense attorney, Phillip Hayes, told the jurors there is no argument over what Baudoin did. The question, he said, is what Vaughn did.
“Trevis committed robbery,” Hayes explained to the jury. “Trevis committed murder. But Trevis isn’t in this courtroom. Your job isn’t to determine was Trevis did. Your job is to determine what Jude did.”
Hayes argued Vaughan couldn’t have expected for Baudoin to actually use the firearm that he had in his possession.
“Trevis absolutely shot and killed Gabriel that day,” Hayes remarked. “I don’t think Jude anticipated he was going to kill him. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated he was going to kill him. I don’t think there’s any evidence that Trevis meant to kill him that day. But he did.”
Hollie Robinson was among the first witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution. She recalled that, on the night of the murder, she saw a vehicle pull up to Richie's house without its lights on. As Robinson and her two-year-old son checked the mailbox, she then witnessed someone exit the passenger side of the vehicle, heard a loud “pop,” and then heard the individual scream an expletive as he ran into the house.
Robinson later learned that individual was Richie.
During the cross-examination, Robinson explained to the defense that the vehicle's lights were off when it peeled away from the scene.
Another witness called to the stand by the State of Texas was Brittney Darr, who explained she was phoned by Richie's sister on the night of the murder. Darr said to Rogers that his sister was worried about her brother and asked that she go over to the house to check on his well-being.
Darr said she searched all of the rooms, including that of the sister, but could not find Richie.
“The last door I opened was the bathroom,” Darr recalled from the stand. “That’s when I saw his legs.”
Darr told Rogers that she found Richie lying unresponsive on the bathroom floor and quickly checked his body for a pulse.
“I knew when I touched him that he was gone,” she recalled. “I just put my hands on his neck, hoping for something so I could do something. All I felt was my own pulse reflected back to me. I still can’t go near the room.”
The morning session adjourned at 12:22 p.m.
The afternoon session reconvened at 1:39 p.m.
Another key witness to the prosecution's case was 19-year-old D'Angelo Arnold, who bought marijuana from Richie the day of the murder.
On the morning of Nov. 14, 2017, Arnold told the court that he purchased "a gram" of marijuana from Richie for $10. Arnold also noted that he later realized he did not receive one full gram of pot and texted Richie to let him know. The victim promised to return later with the difference.
While still recalling the day of the murder to the state, Arnold stated Vaughn later showed up to his house so that the two could go purchase tattoo needles for Arnold’s tattoo practice.
However, Arnold recalled changing his mind shortly after being picked up and instead directed Vaughn to drive him to purchase more marijuana from a different connection.
Arnold then told the court that Vaughn stated that he wanted to steal marijuana from somebody. Still frustrated by being shorted by Richie, Arnold informed the prosecution that he shared Richie’s Snapchat information with Vaughn.
Arnold then told the prosecutor that Richie returned to his house later that same day to provide the missing pot and the two smoked marijuana. Arnold stated not only did he not warn Richie about Vaughn’s intentions to steal his pot, but he also gave the victim Vaughn’s contact information as well.
“I was going to get something out of it,” Arnold stated while on the witness stand. “I was going to get some weed.”
Arnold stated to the court that Richie left his house at around 4 p.m.
Sometime later that night, Arnold recalled Vaughn and Baudoin pulling up to his house and he hopped into the vehicle.
“They said they shot at him,” Arnold recalled when questioned by the prosecution. “They said they shot one time and it jammed. I didn’t know whether Gabriel was shot or not.”
After being pass to the defense, Arnold explained to Hayes that he never saw Vaughn with a gun and didn’t know a weapon was going to be involved during the robbery. Hayes questioned Arnold’s account in court, stating that police records showed he gave three different variations of what occurred on the day of the murder.
“Clearly you don’t have a problem lying if it means getting you out of trouble,” Hayes remarked.
Carroll then dismissed Arnold with an order to return to the courtroom should he be summoned again.
Day one of the trial, which included six witnesses called to testify by the state, was adjourned at 4:12 p.m. Carroll said the jury would reconvene for the second day of the trial at 9 a.m. Wednesday, during which the state will call additional witnesses.
*A previous version of this article attributed testimony by Hollie Robinson to Patricia Edwards.