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Witnesses highlight Cummings' criminal past in sentencing phase


Prosecutors highlighted Rickey Cummings' criminal past as they argued their case to the jury Monday in the sentencing phase of the trial.

Cummings faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole for gunning down Tyus Sneed and Keenan Hubert at Waco's Lakewood Villas in March of 2011.

Former administrators, teachers and police officers with the Waco Independent School District testified Monday. Some said Cummings had a reputation for violence and getting in trouble.

Tarl Lloyd, former principal at Waco's G.L. Wiley Middle School, testified that Rickey Cummings trespassed on campus on Dec. 19, 2003. Lloyd said Cummings did not have a visitor's pass and was asked to leave several times.

Former Waco I.S.D. instructional specialist, Clifford Duevall, said he approached Cummings to ask him why he was on campus. After he instructed Cummings to leave, Duevall said Cummings responded, "If I had a gun, you would not be saying that."

Cummings' defense team argued that Cummings did not have a gun near campus that day. They suggested that Cummings might have gone to the school to see one of his brothers, who was a student at the time.

Duevall said police were called out to G.L. Wiley Middle School, including Gilbert Miller who was the Waco I.S.D. police chief at the time. Duevall described how Cummings "tussled" with Miller before cuffing him and taking him into custody. During this part of Duevall's testimony, several people seated on the side of courtroom reserved for Rickey Cummings' family started laughing.

Judge Ralph Strother quickly quieted the courtroom down and addressed those who were laughing."If I hear one more outburst, you're out of the courtroom," Strother said. Both sides of the courtroom heeded Strother's warning for the rest of the day.

Waco Police officer Joe Williams told the jury about a violent incident that happened in 2005. Williams said Cummings got into a fight with his disabled step-grandfather. Prosecutors showed pictures of the man's swollen face and knee after the fight.

Two former Waco I.S.D. faculty members also took the stand to describe three separate fights Cummings was involved in as a student at Waco High School. Cummings was suspended and sent to an alternative school after each incident.

Megan Sanders testified that Cummings came up to her former boyfriend in 2006 and, "hit him for no reason." She said there was no warning and her boyfriend had no chance to defend himself.  Prosecutors showed pictures of the boyfriend's bloodied lip and chin after the assault.

One of the last witnesses to testify Monday was Jeremy Neagle, a former security guard at Waco's Club Legacy at the corner of Mill St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Neagle said he saw three men run to a parked car on Mill St., get inside and speed off. Neagle said that's when he saw Rickey Cummings in the middle of the street pointing a gun at the car.

Neagle said it was clear Cummings was "proficient" with a gun. When he asked Cummings to lower his weapon, he said Cummings took off running. Neagle and other officers gave chase and eventually caught up with Cummings. Officers recovered a .40 caliber handgun, an extra magazine and a holder. Cummings was arrested and charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon and making a terroristic threat.

The punishment phase of the trial is set to continue Tuesday morning. The defense team will begin calling witnesses at 8:30 a.m. in the 19th District Court. Testimony is expected to last much of the day, and then the jury will begin deliberating.

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