Jeannette man takes stand, says friend shot during struggle for gun
A Jeannette man took the stand in his own defense Friday to deny shooting a friend during an attempted robbery on Sept. 1.
Jurors listened intently as Demarco “Loyal” Jackson, 25, testified he did not have a gun nor did he pull out the gun that discharged a bullet into Victor Bailey's back at 3:30 a.m.
He denied trying to rob Bailey, who came to Jackson's apartment that morning with Dante Wiley Jr., 27, of Jeannette.
Instead, Jackson said, it was Wiley who brought the gun and pulled the trigger as the two struggled for control of the firearm. He said Wiley wanted the contents of Jackson's safe.
“He started reaching for his hip ... if he's reaching for his hip I know he's going for his gun. I was facing Victor, but I was holding (Wiley's) arm,” Jackson testified..
Bailey ran out of the apartment when the struggle started.
Jackson, who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, said he began forcing Wiley, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds, out of the apartment toward the street.
“I seen (Bailey) get shot ... I watched it. I was still holding his arm,” Jackson said.
After the shooting, Jackson claimed, Wiley struck him in the face and fled with the gun. Police never recovered the firearm.
Bailey and Wiley previously testified that it was Jackson who pulled the weapon and shot Bailey in a robbery attempt.
District Attorney John Peck repeatedly questioned Jackson about 96 packets of heroin police confiscated from his safe. Jackson claimed a friend left it at the apartment.
Under cross-examination, Jackson admitted that “everyone in Jeannette knows I sell drugs, Victor Bailey sells drugs, and (Wiley) sells drugs.”
Jackson testified he had invited Bailey to his apartment earlier that evening. Jackson said he left to buy marijuana for his girlfriend, Courtney Petty, 20, and beer for her friends.
Jackson said he went to Punch and Junior's Bar to buy the beer and got into an altercation with some other men, Police arrested Jackson, and he was taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg after complaining of a head injury.
Jackson said he returned to his apartment, called Bailey and told him not to come over. Jackson said Bailey, formerly of Trafford, insisted on visiting and arrived with Wiley. Jackson said he did not know Wiley.
When Jackson told Bailey that Wiley had to leave, Wiley reached for a gun and demanded that Jackson hand over the contents of his safe.
Defense attorney Jim Fox called Petty to the stand to bolster Jackson's claim that he did not try to rob Bailey or Wiley and did not pull or use a gun on Bailey.
Petty said she heard the gunshot but did not see who shot Bailey as a wall blocked her line of sight.
When asked by Peck why they did not call police after the shooting, Petty said she did not want Jackson to call since he had been arrested earlier for the fight outside the bar and police would automatically view Jackson as a suspect in the shooting.
Petty said she and Jackson did not keep a gun in their apartment. She denied knowing that heroin was stored in the safe.
Danyel Rayman, a friend and former neighbor of Wiley's, said he came to her house about 4 a.m, on Sept. 1 and asked to use her phone charger in order to call his girlfriend.
She said Wiley looked “shook up” and sweaty. He said he and Bailey had walked into a house, were threatened with a gun and told to empty their pockets.
Wiley told her when he tried to run away, he heard the gunshot and turned around to see Bailey on the ground. Wiley was worried about Bailey but afraid to return, for fear of getting shot, she testified.
Closing arguments will be Monday. Judge Al Bell is presiding over the trial.
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.