Witnesses recount details of shooting

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2009

A recounting of the drama that transpired between accused killerXavier Vaughn and victim Billy Ray Miller on the night of March 24,2007, began to unfold in detail at the Lincoln County courthouse onday two of Vaughn’s murder trial Wednesday.

Among the technical particulars elaborated on by investigatorsand examiners called to the witness stand by District Attorney DeeBates and ADA Diane Jones was the emotional testimony of Miller’scousin Robert “Big Rob” Brown. He disputed defense attorney JohnnieWalls’ assertions that Miller and his cohorts had loaded up anarmed posse to go confront Vaughn over an earlier altercation.

Brown, and later witness Wilbur Broughton, said the caravan ofthree cars met up and left from a location on Old Highway 51 andtraveled south to a residence at 2128 Old Highway 51 where Vaughnwas attending a wake with an estimated 200-300 people inattendance. The witnesses said they were going to confront Vaughn,28, because Miller, 23, said he had kicked a dent in his car.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Both Brown and Broughton denied earlier claims that any of themen with them were armed.

“(Miller) didn’t need a gun and Xavier knew that,” Brown said toWalls at one point of particular emotion. “The man could handlethree of you. He was tough.”

Early testimony from the first deputy on the scene included astatement from Vaughn that he had shot Miller, but that he had doneso in self-defense. Miller, at a reported 260 pounds at the time ofthe shooting, far outweighed Vaughn, who is 5’10” and 200pounds.

Broughton’s testimony contradicted defense claims that Miller’sposse was carrying sticks, guns and baseball bats when he saidthere were people there with Vaughn who had those weapons.

Both Broughton and Brown testified that when their group exitedtheir vehicles and made their way toward the trailers at theaddress, they saw Vaughn standing by a car with a pistol in hishand.

Walls hammered away at both of them, asking them why none oftheir group told Miller to call the police, and why nobody stoppedhim before he got there.

Brown said Miller had hung up on him and he hadn’t had a clearchance to reason with him. Broughton said Miller said he justwanted to talk to Vaughn about the damage to his car.

Broughton, who rode in the vehicle with Miller on the way to thewake, testified that he saw the shooting occur. He said that whenMiller, who was being held back from getting to Vaughn by a femaleacquaintance, shoved her out of the way, Vaughn’s gun went off andMiller slumped to the ground.

“Then (Vaughn) said, ‘He shouldn’t have touched her, heshouldn’t have put a hand on her,'” Broughton said.

Walls also questioned the thoroughness of the investigation,asking Lincoln County Chief Deputy Johnny Hall why he didn’t checkMiller’s cell phone records, since evidence pointed to his gettingtogether a group of friends to go after Vaughn. He also suggestedsince there had been two different calibers of bullet casings foundat the scene that perhaps there had been weapons that night thatinvestigators knew nothing about and other attendees of the wakewere never searched.

While Brown had stated that Miller called him to back him up inconfronting Vaughn, during Bates’ redirect questioning, Broughtontestified that Miller didn’t want his friends to come with him.

“He told all of us to go home,” Broughton said. “But we weren’tgoing to sit there and let him go all by himself because we’dgotten a call that a bunch of folks were going to jump on him.”