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Survivor describes stabbing during W.Va. murder trial

June 13, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • James G. Cross and Thomas A. Grantham
File photos

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The surviving victim of a fight in which his friend was stabbed to death last year testified in court Wednesday that he could not identify his attacker during the fight or later in a police photo lineup.

Jacques Taylor was seriously wounded and his friend, Andre Jackson, was stabbed to death in the April 23, 2011, incident.

The trial of the men accused in the attacks, James G. Cross, 33, of Kearneysville, W.Va., and Thomas A. Grantham, 36, of Martinsburg, began Tuesday in Berkeley County Circuit Court. Both are charged with murder, attempted murder, malicious assault and conspiracy.

Cross and Grantham are being tried together. They have separate attorneys.

Taylor said he and Jackson got involved in a verbal altercation with Cross and Grantham in the parking lot of the Brick House Bar and Grill at 214 Midland Parkway around 3 a.m. when the bar closed. The argument spilled into the parking lot of the nearby Exxon gas station at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Edwin Miller Boulevard.

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Taylor said neither he nor Jackson knew Cross and Grantham. Details about why they argued were sketchy in testimony from several witnesses.

Taylor said Cross accused him of “looking at my girl.”

At one point, Grantham flipped a cigarette in Jackson’s face. “Andre got upset, but I said, ‘don’t worry about it. Let’s just leave.’”

He said Cross and Grantham pulled up beside their car in the Exxon parking lot, “looking for a fight.”

The argument moved next to Rock Cliff Drive, down Polo Green Drive and back onto Rock Cliff where both vehicles stopped.

According to testimony, Cross and Grantham walked up to the victims’ car, Cross to the passenger side where Jackson was, and Grantham to the driver’s side and Taylor.

“They was trying to fight, but me and Andre didn’t want to fight,” Taylor said under cross-examination. “It wasn’t worth it. We said that we’re not going to fight. Then I got stabbed in the neck, shoulders and arm. Andre said, ‘They got me.’”

The victims got out of the car. Jackson walked a few steps before he fell. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Taylor was hospitalized for two days.

Three women, who were not involved with any of the men in the bar or in the altercation, followed the men’s cars to the gas station, then to Rock Cliff Drive, then to Polo Green Drive and back to Rock Cliff Drive.

Sheron Yates, her sister Shameka Yates and their friend, Sharenna Gonzalez, testified during the trial that they wanted to keep the men from fighting.

The men and two of the women drank heavily that night, according to testimony. The exception was Gonzalez, the women’s designated driver.

Other prosecution witnesses Wednesday included the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Jackson, and Natosha Grantham, Thomas A. Grantham’s cousin from Cincinnati, whose home Grantham and Cross fled to after the incident. She said she didn’t know about the incident until later. She testified that she put Cross and Grantham up in her boys’ bedroom.

Pamela Games-Neely said during a break in the trial that police were led to believe that the defendants would go to Philadelphia or Ohio.

Police in Ohio apprehended Cross and Grantham at the request of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department, Games-Neely said.

The trail resumes today at 9 a.m.

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