Originally created 06/08/01

Trial starts for two in beating, shooting



A jury could decide today whether two men were involved ineither a bizarre kidnapping or a drug deal gone bad when an Augusta man was shot several months ago.

In their opening statements Thursday, attorneys from both sides told a Richmond County Superior Court jury that Michael Warner was shot in the leg Oct. 3, but they described the events leading up to the shooting in very different terms.

Revanez S. Morgan, 21, and Reginald C. Harris, 24, have pleaded innocent to charges of aggravated assault, armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. Their joint trial began Thursday and is expected to conclude today.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Bush told the jury Mr. Warner was home alone when Mr. Morgan, whom Mr. Warner knew from work, knocked on his door and asked to use the telephone. Mr. Warner said Mr. Morgan and a second man he identified as Mr. Harris brandished a gun, demanding personal property and the location of a drug dealer, Mr. Bush told the jury.

After he was unable to tell the men where the dealer lived or any details about the man, the pair forced Mr. Warner to leave his apartment at gunpoint, Mr. Bush continued. Driving around the city, the pair beat Mr. Warner until they arrived at a motel, where Mr. Morgan rented a room, the prosecutor said. Believing he was going to be killed because he didn't have the information the assailants wanted, Mr. Warner tried to escape, Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Morgan then shot Mr. Warner with a .40-caliber handgun, pulverizing the victim's femur, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Jeff Bowman told the jury the facts paint quite a different story about what happened that night.

"Where's the evidence of kidnapping?" Mr. Bowman asked. Mr. Warner went willingly with Mr. Morgan and Mr. Harris to the hotel to buy marijuana, the attorney said. It was Mr. Warner who became aggressive and had the gun, Mr. Bowman said. It was unclear to defense attorneys how Mr. Warner came to be shot.

Mr. Harris' defense attorney, Danny Durham, told the jury Mr. Harris wasn't present that night, that the second assailant was a Florida drug dealer named "Rico" whom Mr. Warner and Mr. Morgan were protecting.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.