Mack murder trial begins
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Nov 8, 2013, 13:48
A Colonial Heights man who was charged with murder and four other felonies began his jury trial on Thursday.
Jonathan Guy pleaded not guilty to five charges including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, malicious wounding with intent to maim, disfigure or kill, malicious wounding by mob and murder by mob.
The incident in question dates back to February 11 when four individuals showed up at the apartment of the victim, Russell ‘Rusty’ Mack, 21. An altercation occurred ultimately resulting in Rusty’s death 17 days later at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital.
Rebecca Lawson, Rusty’s downstairs neighbor in an apartment on Shuford Avenue, testified that she looked out her window on the night of the incident and saw a car pull up out front, and Guy standing next to the car.
Lawson said she then heard Rusty yelling for them to leave from upstairs, before she visibly picked up the phone to give off the impression she was calling the police, after which Guy got in the car and it drove away.
Then, Lawson said she heard Rusty yelling upstairs and decided to record a phone conversation he was having, which included Rusty yelling angrily to the person on the other end to “come over right now” along with several expletives.
Soon after the phone call, Lawson said she heard car doors closing along with voices getting louder outside her apartment, where she looked out her window to see Guy again with another female, Margaret Blair Dacey, and no car.
She opened the window and specifically asked Guy to leave, which he did not, and soon after, Rusty’s roommate came downstairs to talk with Guy, Lawson said.
At this point a male and female, Francis Blaha III and Ashley Mack, appeared outside of the apartment, according to testimony.
Ashley Mack was Guy’s girlfriend and Rusty’s estranged wife, and Rusty and Guy were cousins through marriage, according to the defense.
Rusty was still legally married to Ashley Mack at the time, although they had been separated for months and filed for divorce, according to Rusty’s father’s testimony.
Soon after Rusty’s roommate began talking to Guy, Rusty came running out of the apartment and approached both of them, “staggering back and forth” because he was visibly drunk, Lawson testified.
Rusty eventually fell over in the street, and when he got back to his feet he threw a punch at Guy and missed, to which Guy also responded by swinging a missed punch. Guy then wrestled Rusty to the ground, where “it appeared he had him in a headlock,” Lawson said.
Lawson said she then told them that they needed to do something and that Rusty was too drunk to defend himself, after which Guy was trying to get off of Rusty and let him go.
After Guy got off of Rusty, he stood up and walked over towards Ashley, they screamed and argued with each other before Ashley pushed Rusty and he fell to the ground, Lawson testified.
Rusty was sitting on the ground, with his legs outstretched, using his hands to push himself up when Dacey kicked him in the head and he fell backwards, Lawson testified.
“I heard a thud and he was down on the ground and never got back up” followed almost immediately after by the arrival of the police, Lawson said
Lawson said when she asked Dacey why she kicked Rusty, Dacey responded, “He splashed water on me.”
Sergeant Sam Young, with the Colonial Heights police department, was one of the first responders and when he arrived he saw Rusty lying in the road “flat on his back looking up at the sky” while Guy was standing over him.
When he approached Rusty, he noticed knots and abrasions on his head, his eyes were rolled back in his head and he heard “gurgling on what sounded like the blood in his mouth,” Young testified.
Rusty died on February 28, and the cause of death was a “significant amount of force” to fracture the back of Rusty’s skull from falling into a concrete surface, which made his brain swell and shift to a point of excessive herniation over the next weeks, according to the testimony of Dr. Kevin Whaley, with the chief medical examiner of Richmond, who performed the autopsy on Rusty.
Whaley said that the break in the occipital bone was inconsistent with the force of a human punch, elbow or kick, and that although there were “abrasions on the face” there were no injuries to the front of the face that caused any physical trauma.
Whaley also said that Rusty had a high blood alcohol level when he received the injuries, but that this did not have any huge effect on his injuries.
When police arrived on the scene, Guy had “glassy eyes” and reeked of alcohol, according to Colonial Heights police officer Greer Fullerton Jr.’s testimony.
Guy did not try to flee, but just backed up across the street when the police showed up, Young testified.
Fullerton said that Guy admitted to his involvement in the altercation, and said the reason they showed up at Rusty’s apartment was to talk to Rusty, specifically on the issue of Guy and Ashley’s relationship.
Detective Roger Santini, with the Colonial Heights police department, testified that Guy told him Rusty had been continuously harassing both Guy and Ashley through text messages and phone calls for a period of time before February 11.
The defense argued that Guy is not guilty of first degree murder because “he did not cause the death of Rusty Mack” and that although Guy was associated with Dacey, there is no evidence to support that he could foresee the events following their wrestling match, therefore he is also not guilty of second degree murder.
The prosecution argued that the four co-defendants “went over there knowing [Rusty] was in a frame of mind to fight” and that “they went over there to take care of Rusty Mack by force if necessary.”
The three other co-defendants have not been tried yet.
As of Thursday night, the jury was scheduled to reach a verdict on Friday. The rest of the trial will be reported in Tuesday’s edition.