Accused gunman in deadly 2015 shooting awaits verdict

JACKSON, Tenn. — A Madison County jury began deliberations Wednesday following a two-day trial for an accused gunman facing a first-degree murder charge.

The jury heard the testimony from Trimon Pruitt, who is charged in the December 2015 shooting death of Tony Willoughby near Allenton Heights apartment complex in midtown Jackson.

When asked about his involvement in the shooting and the gang called the Vice Lords, he said he was a member for about two to three years.

Defense Attorney John Hamilton asked Pruitt if he killed the victim, to which he replied “No sir, I did not kill Tony Willoughby.”

The court heard from several witnesses including a friend of the victim, Pruitt’s grandmother, and two others who are alleged Vice Lord gang members.

Jackson Police Department Investigator Dan Long read a written statement from one of the alleged members about the events that led up to the shooting. He said they had no idea it was going to be a murder.

“I thought we would just give him a beat down,” Investigator Long read from the statement.

Police say Pruitt shot Willoughby multiple times. They found him lying on the side of the street along with several spent .40-caliber casings.

Pruitt said the night of the shooting he went to church and then left early to go to his grandmother’s.

Investigators spoke with a man who told them he had driven Willoughby to the apartment complex to meet someone. The man told them it was during the meeting that a man approached Willoughby and started shooting.

Police found and talked to a witness who identified Pruitt as the gunman, according to court papers. The witness told officers Pruitt shot Willoughby multiple times and then chased him across the street and shot him again as he lay on the ground.

In April 2016, two of Pruitt’s alleged fellow gang members took the stand to testify against him during his preliminary hearing.

The two professed Vice Lord gang members testified that Pruitt shot Willoughby over a violation within the street gang. After hearing the testimony, the judge sent the case on to the grand jury.

Jury deliberations began around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday and ended around 7 p.m. without a verdict being reached. The case will resume at 8:30, Thursday morning. Stay with WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News as we wait for a verdict.

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