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Witnesses downplay gang violence in murder trial


As the Rickey Cummings trial entered its second week Tuesday, witnesses for the defense downplayed claims prosecutors made about gang violence in East Waco.

Rickey Cummings is accused of gunning down Tyus Sneed, 17, and Keenan Hubert, 20, at Waco's Lakewood Villas on March 28, 2011.

Jasmine Davison was the last witness to take the stand Tuesday before Judge Ralph Strother called for a recess in the trial around 11:30 a.m. Davison described herself as Rickey Cummings' girlfriend. She said she had been dating Cummings since January of 2011.

Defense attorney Russ Hunt, Sr. asked Davison to show jurors what he called the "East Waco sign." Davison demonstrated the sign, crossing her fingers into the shape of an "E." Davison denied the gesture was a "gang sign." She said people use the sign to show where they live.

Davison also testified that she bought a .40-caliber pistol that was found in Rickey Cummings' car after his arrest. She told jurors she planned to get a concealed handgun licence and bought the gun so she and Cummings could go "target shooting" together. Prosecutors questioned her about the caliber of the gun and why she chose it, to which Davison responded, "it was cheap."

The state also asked Davison about certain tattoos on Rickey Cummings' body, including a five-pointed star. They asked her about the significance of the tattoo and the numbers "5" and "9." Davison said she didn't know the meaning behind the tattoo or the numbers.

Sheila Bowers also demonstrated the "East Waco sign" during her testimony Tuesday morning. She told jurors the sign was "just something kids do." However, Bowers did admit there was violence in East Waco. 

Bowers' son, Emuel "Man-Man" Bowers, was killed in a 2010 shooting in Waco. Sheila Bowers said her son was a friend of Rickey Cummings. Prosecutors argued last week that Rickey Cummings killed Tyus Sneed and Keenan "Lockie" Hubert in retaliation for Bowers' death.

When the defense team asked Sheila Bowers how she felt about the deaths of Hubert and Sneed, she responded, "it took me back to my son." During their cross-examination, the state asked Bowers about rap lyrics her son had written including the phrase "live by the trigger, die by the trigger. Bowers said the lyrics "speak for themselves."

The defense team spent much of the morning attempting to pick away at the credibility of one of the witnesses prosecutors called last week. The witness was charged with aggravated assault last in 2011, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. The defense argued the District Attorney's office offered the plea deal in exchange for her testimony in the Cummings trial. Assistant District Attorney, Michael Jarrett, denied those claims.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 8:30 Wednesday morning in the 19th District Court of the McLennan County Courthouse. Judge Ralph Strother said he would likely call for an early recess at around 2 p.m. 

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