Suspect denies being involved in man’s murder

Teen says he was scared to report crime to police

Hye

PASCAGOULA

Capital murder suspect Terry Hye Jr. on Thursday denied any involvement in the October 2008 robbery and shooting death of Hattiesburg resident Michael David Porter.

Hye peered at Porter’s wife, Linda Bell Porter, who was in a front-row seat in the courtroom and said, “Mrs Porter, I’m very sorry for your loss, but I had nothing to do with your husband’s murder.”

Linda Porter shook her head in disagreement, shedding tears at times as she listened to Hye’s nearly two hours of testimony about the events of Oct. 23, 2008, when her husband, 44, died after being shot outside the Conoco station on Mississippi 63 in Moss Point.

Linda Porter was in the car at the time. She said she saw two people, later identified as Hye, now 18, and codefendant Telvin James Benjamin, now 15, jump her husband as he was trying to get into their Mercedes convertible before the shooter, Darwin D.J. Wells, shot him. Porter was pronounced dead at Singing River Hospital a short time later. The couple had stopped at the store to ask for directions to their grandson’s football game in Pascagoula.

On the stand, Hye said he didn’t immediately go to police officers to report what he’d seen because he was scared.

“I just saw Darwin Wells shoot somebody,” he said. “I didn’t want him to shoot me or anybody in my family.”

He said he did tell his aunt what had happened, but she told him not to go to the police because he didn’t do anything wrong. She is now facing trial on an accessory charge.

The night after the killing, Hye said he went to the Jackson County Fair. He said Alonzo Kelly, who has since pleaded guilty to an accessory charge, Benjamin and Wells also went to the fair that night. He said he didn’t know at the time Porter had died of his injuries.

He said he later heard Moss Point police officers were looking for him for questioning. He said his sister brought him in to talk to investigators but they turned him away. When he finally got in for questioning, he said he eventually wrote down what Moss Point police officer Terrance Gray directed him to write after Gray and another officer accused him of lying about having no involvement in the killing.

He told jurors Thursday all he did the day of the killing.

He said he and Benjamin walked to Kelly’s home, where they talked about girls and smoked marijuana before deciding to walk to the Lil Super store to get hot dogs.

There, he said, they ran into Wells, who first mentioned his plan to “hit a lick,” or rob someone. He said he assumed he actually meant he was planning to sell some crack cocaine since he’d seen Wells sell drugs on numerous occasions.

He said the four of them started walking back towards Kelly’s home before Wells got into a fight with a guy on the street. He said the fight broke up when they heard police sirens. He said police officers later stopped them, searched them and let them go.

They ended up back at Kelly’s house, he said, where he fell asleep until around 6 p.m.

He said he realized he needed cigarettes, and the four of them headed back to the Lil Super store to find someone to buy them.

Wells, he said, suggested they go on to the Conoco because he needed to “hit a lick” anyway.

Once they got there, he said he, Kelly and Benjamin stood on the adjacent Peters Street because the store owner had banned them from the property. He said Wells also was banned but went on the property and stood on the side of the building until they noticed Porter’s Mercedes pull up.

He said he saw Michael Porter go in the store and come out, and saw Wells round the corner of the store and head for Porter.

He said he remained on the street, and never saw Wells rob anyone. He said he didn’t know Wells even had a gun until he slipped on his way to approach Porter.

About that time, he said he and Kelly started walking down the street away from he store, though he said he turned back and thought he saw Porter trying to lock the door to his car, before he heard a gunshot.

He said Benjamin had walked onto the store property but started running a distance behind them after the shot.

Wells started running up the street next, he said.

Wells, he said, told him he shot Porter in the arm.

In testimony, Hye also admitted to writing a letter in jail to Benjamin that was intercepted by jail deputies. He said he wasn’t trying to tell Benjamin what to say at trial so they could get their stories straight, as the note suggested.

Instead, he said, he was trying to tell Benjamin to tell the truth about what happened.

The state questioned Hye’s inconsistencies in statements and his recollection of events, even asking him if he was saying Linda Porter lied when she said she saw three attackers.

In response, Hye simply said, “She was just probably in a state of shock.”

Closing arguments begin this morning.

By MARGARET BAKER – mbbaker@sunherald.com

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