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Ross gives his version of slaying

June 13, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Timothy J. Ross testified at his criminal homicide trial Tuesday that he fired shots at Drake Luckett, but was unaware he had killed him until he was taken into custody by Chambersburg police several hours later.

A jury will begin deliberating today whether Ross, 26, of Chambersburg, is guilty of first-degree murder, a lesser degree of homicide, or was justified in his shooting of Luckett on the night of March 1, 1999, at Dave's Tavern, 401 S. Main St. If convicted of first-degree murder, Ross faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Ross said he and Luckett, 34, of 217 Linden Ave., had argued earlier in the evening at the bar. Ross said Luckett left the bar, but "He was mad. He said, 'I'll be back.'"

When Luckett came back in through the bar's front door, Ross testified he left through the Catherine Street door.

"I made about five or six steps...I heard the door slam open," Ross said. He testified he heard a friend yell, "Watch out!" and Luckett's girlfriend, Tamra Lidie, say, "No, Drake."

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"He was reaching for something. His hand was underneath his sweater," according to Ross. "I fired," he said.

Luckett died of a gunshot wound to the chest. There was no evidence introduced at trial that he had a weapon.

Ross testified he fired the three shots on the run and kept running down Catherine Street. He said he was afraid of "being followed. Being shot at."

Ross said a friend, "Boobie," had given him a gun before the shooting, along with bullets he put in his jacket pocket. He said he did not know if the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver.

He admitted he tossed his jacket into a vacant lot near the bar and put the gun under a rock. Both were found the next day and the jacket tested positive for gunpowder residue, according to Alfred Schwoeble, a forensic expert called by the prosecution.

A Pennsylvania State Police ballistics expert testified the shells and slugs recovered by police had been fired from the revolver.

Ross, who is white, said the incident began when he mistook Luckett, who was black, for a friend. He said he used a racial slur in greeting him and Luckett, whom he had never met, took offense.

Edna Woods of Hagerstown, Md., a friend of Luckett, testified Monday that Ross and two other men pushed her around when she went to use the bathroom.

Ross admitted to pushing Woods and said he accidentally bumped into Lidie a short time later.

On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney David Rahauser asked Ross why he stayed outside the bar if he was afraid of Luckett. "If you had gone home, Drake Luckett would still be alive, wouldn't he?" Rahauser asked.

"Yes, I guess so," Ross said.

During direct questioning by defense attorney David Yoder, Ross admitted he had convictions for receiving stolen property and a 1992 robbery. According to borough police records, he was also charged in January 1999 with delivery of cocaine.

Defense witness Charles Cole of Chambersburg said Luckett, who had just moved to Chambersburg, raised his suspicions because he "was a different person in there I'd never seen." He also said Luckett insulted other patrons, but Judge John R. Walker barred testimony by Thomas that Luckett was asking people for marijuana.

According to an autopsy report introduced Monday, Luckett had a blood alcohol level of 0.20 percent, twice the legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania.

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