Jurors moved by horrific 911 tape

This story was published in The Advocate on May 21, 2012. 

Prosecutors played a tape recording Saturday of the horrific 911 call that ended with the screams of Patricia Aldridge being shot 13 times by an AK-47, while multiple jurors burst into tears and the defendant, Derrick Gordy, leaned back in his chair and stared straight ahead.

The five-minute tape, recorded on Sept. 30, 2009, started with Aldridge calmly telling the dispatcher that four black male assailants had threatened her son’s life outside their South Sunderland Avenue home. A few minutes later, Aldridge could be heard goading the subjects.

“C’mon, try to hit me … uh huh … c’mon … here they come, here they come,” Aldridge said just before the call suddenly erupted into chilling screams and a barrage of gunfire that lasted between 10 and 30 seconds.

“Ma’am? Ma’am?” the dispatcher asked.

“I’m dead,” Aldridge said, before the sounds of gunfire took over the recording.

The Sheriff’s Office dispatcher who took the call, Roger Zecchel, testified in 19th Judicial District Court he would always remember that moment.

“I guess on a call that ends that tragically you don’t forget that type of thing,” Zecchel said.

The defendant’s attorney, Bruce Craft, acknowledged that the tape was “very disturbing,” but said that nothing it contains identified his client as the shooter.

Derrick George Gordy, 19, is on trial for allegedly killing Aldridge, 40, and her son, Ronald “Ronnie” Thacker Jr., 21, outside their South Sunderland Avenue homes near King Bradford Drive.

Gordy, of Baton Rouge, was 16 at the time.

If convicted on both counts of second-degree murder as charged, he would be sentenced to life in prison.

An eyewitness, Joshua Williams, 19, testified that he had seen Gordy shoot Aldridge five times in the legs, before standing over her and firing three more bullets into her body. When Thacker ran toward his mother, Gordy cut him down with more gunfire, Williams said.

“He starts shooting, she falls on the ground,” Williams told jurors. “He stands over her, keeps shooting. Ronnie runs up, he shoots him, and he shoots him again.”

Craft, the defense attorney, told the jury Williams was an unreliable witness because he lied in court about the fact that he had bought and smoked marijuana earlier in the day at Jay Winters’ house.

Winters, 31, who had driven Gordy and his accomplice, Demario Alexander, away from the crime scene, pleaded guilty in January to obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Williams acknowledged he had lied about the marijuana at Winters’ house, as well as details about his criminal history.

“You expect this jury to believe what you told them with your history of being a deceiver?” Craft asked Williams, a material witness arrested out of state and brought to Louisiana to testify in Gordy’s trial.

“Yes, sir,” Williams replied.

Williams told the jury he was certain it was Gordy who had done the shooting.

“I’ll never forget that face,” he said.

Another witness, Kenji Gray, who lived with Williams in the other half of the duplex that Thacker occupied at the time of the shooting, said that he had seen Gordy’s face as the defendant was firing the AK-47, even though it was very dark outside.

“Every time the gun went off, the brightness, the face, you could see everything,” Gray said. “Like when lightning strikes, it lights up.”

Corroborating the testimony of Thacker’s two best friends who were at the scene, Gray and Williams both said that Gordy got into an altercation with Thacker, left the area, then returned after 10 minutes armed with an AK-47.

Another prosecution witness, Dominique Franklin, testified that Gordy had been eating pizza about 5:30 p.m. in her single-story apartment, located near the crime scene on King Bradford.

When the shooting broke out, one of her friends banged on her door to seek cover, she said. About 20 minutes after the shooting, Franklin said, she heard footsteps overhead, as if someone was walking on her roof.

Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Morris, who was the lead investigator on the case, told the jury he retrieved the AK-47 assault rifle used in the attack from Franklin’s rooftop a few days later, on Oct. 3, following a Crime Stoppers tip.

The trial is scheduled to resume in state District Judge Trudy White’s courtroom at 9 a.m. Monday.

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