Day two of the capital murder trial related to the 2017 shooting death of a 17-year-old in Waxahachie provided the jurors with a detailed look into statements the defendant disclosed to police early in the investigation.
Jude Shawn Vaughn Jr., 20, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday morning to charges of capital murder and murder for the death of Gabriel Richie, 17, during the trial's opening day in the 40th District Court of Ellis County. His co-defendant, 20-year-old Trevis LaDavoin Baudoin, previously accepted a plea deal in November that sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
Vaughn had rejected that same plea deal.
Prior to the trial, Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Timothy Rogers was appointed as the special prosecutor in the matter.
Following the first day of trial that featured several witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution, court reconvened at 9:23 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Waxahachie Police detective Barry Owens told the prosecution that he conducted two interviews with the defendant, Jude Shawn Vaughn Jr., 20, on Nov. 15 and 16, 2017 at the Waxahachie Police station. Rogers submitted video recordings of both conversations as evidence to the jury.
“He downplays his involvement,” Owens recalled to the prosecution. “He kind of tried to play himself off as a victim of circumstance.”
The first video recording was of the initial interview at 11:46 p.m. Nov. 15 in Owen’s office at the police station. Vaughn is seen in the video handcuffed to a chair in Owens’ office, wearing a red shirt and a red baseball cap.
“I’m a firm believer that there is two sides to every story,” Owens said to Vaughn in the recording. “I want to know yours.”
Vaughn is then seen explaining to Owens his timeline of events leading up to the shooting on Nov. 14. Vaughn recalled waking up at 9 a.m. before meeting up with 19-year-old D’Angelo Arnold around 1 p.m. to smoke marijuana with him at his house.
After transporting Arnold to purchase more marijuana around 3 p.m., Vaughn claimed, in the interview, that Arnold had given his Snapchat information to Richie, the murder victim who Vaughn later claimed attempted to sell him marijuana.
Owens audibly expressed doubt to Vaughn’s claim in the video.
“We know that nobody buying or selling dope in their right mind is going to answer a Snapchat,” Owens tells Vaughn during the interview. “That’s the first way to get thrown in jail. You’re not going to answer a random-ass Snapchat from somebody you don’t know.”
Vaughn recalled to Owens that he picked up Baudoin around 6 p.m. to meet up with Richie under the presumption of purchasing weed. He later revealed that Baudoin intended to “take his phone.” Vaughn told Owens during the interview that he hadn’t robbed anybody before.
At around 7 p.m., Vaughn and Baudoin pulled up to Richie’s residence. Vaughn recalled Baudoin hopping into the backseat while Vaughn messaged Richie that the money was in the front cup holder of his vehicle. When Richie entered the front passenger seat, Vaughn stated that was when the duo attempted to rob him of his possessions.
Vaughn told Owens that he saw Richie exit the vehicle when he heard a shot fired. He then explained that he saw Richie fall to the ground, get back up and dash toward his house.
Vaughn told Owens he didn’t learn until much later — from Arnold — that Baudoin had shot and killed Richie that night.
Owens explained to the jury that Richie was approximately two to three feet from the vehicle when he was shot. From that range, he said it would be very easy to hit your target.
During the interrogation, Vaughn claimed to Owens that he didn’t even realize Baudoin had a gun and he didn’t mean to shoot him. Owens responded to Vaughn that he should have come forward with this information to the police much sooner than he had.
“A lot can be said for a young man that walks through that front door and says ‘Guys, I know something about this, I need to tell you my side of the story,’” Owens remarked to Vaughn in the video. “Not near as much can be said for a man that doesn’t say a word, and we have to go out and find him.”
Before Rogers stopped the video interrogation, Vaughn agreed to sign two consent forms to search his phone and vehicle for more evidence.
A second video interview was shown that took place around 9:30 a.m. Nov. 16 at Owens’ office. Vaughn explained to Owens in the second interview that he was going to let Richie go, even without stealing the 17-year-old's phone. He also told Owens that Baudoin was holding the weapon sideways when he fired in Richie’s direction.
The prosecution passed the witness to the defense before the court adjourned at 11:57 a.m.
The afternoon session reconvened shortly after 2:20 p.m. Defense attorney Phillip Hayes began his cross-examination of Owens by clarifying the difference between a theft and a robbery.
A theft, he said, involves taking someone else’s property, while a robbery specifically involves aggravated force.
“If I take your phone, that’s a theft,” Hayes iterated to Owens seated at the witness stand. “If I take your phone and punch you, threaten you, or cause you some type of harm, that’s a robbery. If I bring a firearm, that’s aggravated robbery. But you agree that taking a phone, in itself, is not a robbery.”
Hayes clarified with Owens that, up until when the gun was involved, what had taken place was a theft – not a robbery.
“Just because someone calls it a robbery doesn’t make it a robbery,” Hayes remarked to Owens.
Hayes also clarified Baudoin’s handling of the weapon to Owens. Noting the sideways angle of the firearm, Hayes remarked that shooting in a “gangster style” wasn’t a very accurate way to point a weapon.
“From that distance, you don’t have to be very accurate,” Owens responded.
Rogers took back the witness and asked Owens whether this was a theft or a robbery. Owens stated it was a robbery.
Rogers also asked 40th District Judge Bob Carroll if he could approach the witness, to which Carroll approved. Rogers positioned himself in front of Owens’ desk, asking him to point his hand the way Baudoin had on the night of the murder and based on the evidence gathered. Rogers asked Owens to close his eyes and positioned himself at about the angle Richie’s back was facing Baudoin.
Rogers asked Owens if a gun pointed at that angle would have hit Richie, even with Owens’ eyes closed. Owens answered yes.
“Gangster style, cowboy style, video-game style, that shot was going to hit Gabe Richie,” Rogers stated to the jury.
“That was a cute demonstration,” Hughes remarked to Owens.
After Owens was excused from the court, Vaughn’s girlfriend, Tysheanna Hollins, was called to the stand. Collins told Rogers that she knew Vaughn for eight months before the murder and they initially met via Instagram.
She remarked that his username on Snapchat was “bloodgang.”
Collins recalled to the prosecution that Vaughn stayed at her house in Oak Cliff the night before the murder. She told the jury that Vaughn called her the night of the murder and explained to her that Baudoin shot at the victim, and Vaughn drove off in a panic.
She said Vaughn didn’t know whether Baudoin hit Richie or not.
Collins told the prosecution that Vaughn was devastated when he learned that Richie was dead.
“He was emotional,” she recollected in court. “He laid back in down in bed, cried and just sat there for a moment.”
The state passed the witness to the defense for cross-examination. Hayes clarified with Collins the actions of both Vaughn and Baudoin, noting that Baudoin was the one attempting to get the phone and was the one who shot Richie.
After Collins was dismissed, Waxahachie Police detective Albert Martinez was called to the stand. The prosecution submitted the final items into evidence during his testimony, including a pill bottle and bullets owned by Baudoin. The defense clarified that the items belonged to Baudoin, not their client.
Martinez was dismissed, and the state rested at 3:47 p.m. The defense rested at 4:18 p.m. and the court adjourned at 4:23 p.m. Carroll said the jury would reconvene for the third day of the trial at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.