Attorneys for both sides gave their respective opening arguments Tuesday, launching the start of trial for a man charged with murder in a 2017 double homicide in Rabbittown.
Jeffrey Jamall Briskey, 36, of Anniston, was initially charged in connection with the slayings of Travis Frost, 73, and his 23-year-old grandson, Joshua Dylan Moody in December of 2017. Also charged in the crime was Rhimington Otarivs Johnson; he pleaded guilty to murder in April.
Frost and Moody were beaten and shot to death after someone broke into their home on Rabbittown Road just before dawn on July 23, 2017, authorities have said.
Moody, Briskey and Johnson arrived together at the Frost home in Rabbittown, a rural area near Piedmont, where some type of drug transaction was supposed to take place, District Attorney Brian McVeigh told the jury during his opening statement in Calhoun County Judge Debra Jones’ courtroom Tuesday.
Frost’s widow, Patsy Frost, was also in the home that night and witnessed the attack on her husband and grandson, according to McVeigh.
After Frost and Moody were attacked and shot, their attackers fled the scene in Moody’s Nissan Altima, which was found abandoned and burned near a Mapco gas station in Piedmont later that morning.
Briskey fled the area with the help of his then-girlfriend Sicondria Carter, and was reportedly found in Virginia with a severe burn on his arm, according to McVeigh.
During defense attorney Michael Askew’s opening statement, Askew extended his sympathies to the Frost family, who was present in the courtroom. However, Askew said Briskey, while present at the Frost house the night in question, never exited the car while the murders occurred.
Askew claimed there will be no physical evidence at the Frost house that would link Briskey to the crime, such as DNA, fingerprints, blood, hair or clothing fibers. In addition to the lack of physical evidence tying Briskey to the location of the murders, Askew claimed the state’s key witnesses in the case — namely Johnson and Carter — had “credibility issues.”
Johnson pleaded guilty to his charges for his role in the crime in April, and is an “admitted murderer and a liar,” Askew said. Askew said Johnson threatened both Briskey and Carter and gave “self serving statements,” to law enforcement after the crime had occurred.
Askew said Carter gave statements to police that claimed Briskey never left the vehicle when Johnson and Moody entered the Frost home.
In addition, Askew claimed Patsy Frost’s testimony will show she was never given a photo lineup that would identify the attackers. He also claimed Patsey said she couldn’t identify the attacker’s race; that it was too dark.
Jones reminded jurors that opening statements are not evidence, and upon redirect, McVeigh said “lawyers love to hear themselves talk.”
McVeigh urged the jury to listen to the evidence and witness testimony closely, as it will not align with all that Askew claimed during his opening argument.
The state called its first witness Tuesday just before lunch with the trial projected to go two weeks, with the possibility of a third.