By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The capital murder trial of a man accused of shooting another man in the parking lot of the Trussville Cracker Barrel on March 28, 2019, is officially underway. Jury selection wrapped up Tuesday morning and opening statements began. Shortly after, witnesses began to take the stand.
Judge Clyde Jones instructed the jury, which consists of three black men, six white men, three black women, and two white women.
In the courtroom during the first half of the day, at least six people sat in support of defendant Bryan Hancock and nine family members of victim Randy Young were in attendance.
Hancock, 23, is charged with capital murder in the death of Young.
Tuesday, Judge Jones explained the capital murder charge and the four things the state must prove. Those four things are: That Randy Young is dead, that Hancock caused the death of Young by firing a weapon, that Hancock was in a vehicle when he fired a shot, and that in committing the act that caused the death, Hancock intended to kill Young.
Young was shot in the head in the parking lot of the restaurant after a dispute over parking, according to both parties. Young died after being on life support for two days.
In opening statements, the prosecution called the death unnecessary, unreasonable, and unjustified. They said the victim was called “the N-word” by the defendant, which caused him to get upset. They said Young punched Hancock in the face while Hancock was sitting in the truck. Hancock, they claim, responded by shooting Young.
Hancock’s attorneys claim the shooting was in self-defense. The entire incident happened within two minutes and 55 seconds. The defense said Hancock had no “real and specific intent to kill” as the law states. The defense claims Young was threatening to “kick Hancock’s ass.” They admitted there is evidence Hancock had taken two-milligram Xanax bars throughout the afternoon, and that he had smoked marijuana earlier in the day. The defense also said that Young’s stepfather, who was at the restaurant during the shooting, did not witness details leading up to the shooting. Defense attorney Michael Hanle said Hancock fully denies ever using the N-word.
The video was shown during witness testimony. The state called six witnesses Tuesday. The mother of the victim, the stepdad of the victim, a Trussville Police officer, a 911 dispatcher, and two Cracker Barrel employees.
The victim’s mother said she was not at Cracker Barrel when her son was shot. She was at home and Young and his stepfather were eating at the restaurant. They planned to order food for her to go and bring it home to her. Instead, she got a call from her husband after the shooting. She drove to the restaurant where she said she saw the ambulance. She was unable to see her son, so she followed the ambulance to St. Vincent’s East then to UAB. That is where she was told Randy Young had a “non-survivable injury.”
During testimony by the stepfather, Robert Shepard, the state showed the surveillance video and asked him to give an account of what happened as the video was playing. As Shepard and Young were waiting for their to-go order, Shepard said he stepped outside to have a cigarette. While he was smoking, Young was inside Cracker Barrel completing payment for the order. Shepard saw a black truck pull into the spot beside his white Mitsubishi Galant. He testified that the truck parked in a way that blocked his car from being able to get out of the parking spot. The stepfather said the driver got out of the vehicle, leaving the driver’s side door open, and started to walk towards him. Shepard said the driver then asked him for a cigarette and told him he had just had a bad day. He gave him a cigarette and when Randy Young was finished paying inside, the two started to the car. Shepard said that is when a verbal altercation began between Young and Hancock, leading to the shooting.
During cross-examination, the defense pointed out some inconsistencies of what Shepard told police right after the shooting and what he said on the stand. The defense also asked Shepard if he could see Hancock when the shooting happened. They called into question his point-of-view based on where he was standing in the video. Shepard said he saw Hancock’s arm come out of the window and saw fire coming out of the pistol that was pointed at Young’s head.
“I saw the shooting!” Shepard said from the stand.
The waitress that served Shepard and Young on the night of the shooting was also called as a witness for the state. She said after the shooting she rushed to go help because she was in nursing school at the time. She was initially blocked from going outside but was able to render aid after police secured the scene.
Testimony will continue Wednesday. The trial is being held at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham.
Hancock is considered innocent until proven guilty.