Jurors hear 911 tape in ’07 shooting

Published 5:00 am Friday, April 17, 2009

On the third day of Xavier Vaughn’s murder trial Thursday Jurorswere able to relive the moment of Billy Ray Miller’s March 24, 2007death as they listened to a 911 recording in which a gunshot rangout in the background, followed by several moments of stunnedsilence.

That silence had been described by all of the state’s witnessespresent that night as the moment of realization when they watchedMiller, 23, of Wesson, slump to the ground lifeless. Vaughn, 28, ofBrookhaven, had pulled the trigger of his 9 mm handgun when he sawMiller shove a female acquaintance, witnesses said.

“It was like time just froze, like time was dead,” said Miller’scousin Willie Cain from the courtroom witness stand.

When defense attorney Johnnie Walls of Greenville asked Cain whyMiller had taken a group of friends into a confrontation where hewas facing a man with a gun, Cain didn’t pause.

“That’s Billy Ray. His heart don’t pump Kool-aid,” he said.

Other testimony sought to establish Miller’s demeanor when hewent to confront Vaughn. Vaughn has admitted to shooting Miller ata residence on Old Highway 51, but claimed it was in self-defensewhen the group showed up at a wake where Vaughn and other familymembers were gathered to grieve.

Deidred Vaughn, the mother of Miller’s children, and XavierVaughn’s wife Cherie said they had ridden together to Miller’smother’s house to pick up Diedred Vaughn’s children, and had foundMiller angry and confrontational.

Cherie Vaughn, who was seven and a half months pregnant at thetime of the incident, testified that Miller asked where they hadbeen and told her to get out of the car.

When Diedred Vaughn saw Miller’s temper, she told Cherie Vaughnto leave the scene, and the women fled. When a fast-approaching carappeared in the rear-view mirror, the women mistakenly believed itto be Miller chasing them down.

After Xavier Vaughn had spoken with his wife about the event,witness accounts said he went to confront Miller about frighteninghis wife while she was pregnant, as she had already had severalcomplications. Cherie Vaughn and Cedric Vaughn, Xavier’s brother,described Miller as disrespectful, saying he didn’t care aboutCherie Vaughn and that he was a “260-pound beast.”

Diedred Vaughn testified that in the same confrontation, XavierVaughn had said, “You think you’re Superman, I’ll make you fly,” towhich Miller allegedly replied, “I ain’t scared of a gun.”

During that confrontation is when Xavier Vaughn is said to havekicked a dent in Miller’s car.

“If you kick his car, it’s like you slapped his mother,” saidCain. “And what would you do if someone slapped your mother?”

Cain testified that when Miller’s posse of at least seven of hisrelatives and friends arrived at the wake, he walked up in thecrowd saying, “All y’all were trying to jump me a while ago, jumpme now.”

Miller’s appearance at the wake set in motion a series of eventsthat resulted in his being shot.

The defense is expected to rest Friday. Officials hope the jurywill be able to deliberate and return a verdict Friday night.