Testimony in the murder trial of Timothy Lynn Smith began Tuesday in 392nd District Judge Carter Tarrance’s court.

The first day of testimony included the 9-1-1 call placed by Cynthia Perkins, the mother of 32-year-old Johnnie Carl Perkins, who was killed on March 10, 2006. Smith is accused of shooting Morrison in the head with a shotgun during a dispute that day.

Smith — who was on five years probation on a felony charge of injury to a child at the time of the shooting — pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

He became teary-eyed at the defense table as he heard the tape of Perkins’ call to 9-1-1.

The tape, which was played in Tuesday afternoon, was difficult to hear in the courtroom. Jurors were given transcripts on which to read along. Perkins’ son had just been shot in the head and, between bursts of static and distortion, she could be heard weeping and pleading for help.

The roughly four-minute call was recorded by the Gun Barrel City Police Department.

In his opening statement, prosecutor John Scott — who is working with Assistant District Attorney Shari Moore — said Smith and Morrison were methamphetamine dealers. Morrison, who worked for Smith, owed Smith money for a batch of methamphetamine he’d been unable to sell.

Smith, riding in a van driven and owned by William Weaver, had a confrontation with Morrison on Pinebloom Boulevard shortly before 3 p.m. According to police reports, Morrison damaged Weaver’s van with an aluminum baseball bat.

Smith then shot Morrison in the right temple with a shotgun before the van left the scene.

Scott said Smith shot Morrison without physical provocation. He said Smith was angry over the drug money and that Morrison did not directly attack or threaten Smith with the bat.

“All will tell you that Tim (Smith) looked cool,” Scott told the jury in his opening statement. “He’s a cool customer sitting in his car. ... And not once did Johnnie hit Mr. Smith with the bat.”

In the defense’s opening statement, John Key — who is being assisted by Paul Key — said Smith felt threatened by Morrison.

“Crazy Johnnie Morrison, drunker than Cooter Brown and on amphetamines, comes out and whacks the van with a baseball bat,” John Key said. He said Morrison tried to attack the van’s passenger-side window, where Smith was sitting.

Fifteen witnesses were introduced at the beginning of the trial. The jury heard from two — Gun Barrel City Police dispatcher Christine Brumley, who took the 9-1-1 call, and Dr. Jeffrey Barnhard, chief medical examiner for the Dallas County Medical Office. Barnhard, who supervised Morrison’s autopsy.

Barnhard testified the fatal shot to Morrison’s head was fired at close range. He also said traces of methamphetamine and alcohol were present in Morrison’s bloodstream. At the time of death, he said, Morrison had a methamphetamine level of 0.15 and a blood/alcohol level of 0.14. Under Texas law, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 is considered intoxicated for driving purposes.

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e-mail dgordon@athensreview.com

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