Man Says Defendant Shot Him, Killed 2 in Bathtub
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Rutherford Berry was about to leave his friends' Prince William County apartment one night in January 2002 when there was a knock on the door. The stranger who came in was holding a gun.
The man, who demanded cash and marijuana, ordered Berry and two friends into the bathroom and forced them to undress, Berry tearfully testified yesterday. When the gunman told the nude men to get into the bathtub, Berry climbed in and got on his knees.
"He kept asking about money. I looked up and I said, 'I don't even live here.' That's when the shot went off," Berry said, snapping his fingers. The bullet struck him in the head, and he lost consciousness.
Berry has largely recovered but says he still has headaches and suffers from paranoia and anxiety. During the first day of testimony yesterday, he identified the man sitting in the Prince William courtroom, Joshua W. Andrews, as the man who shot him and killed his friends in the tub. Andrews, 25, of Woodbridge, is charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of three men, including Berry's high school friends, Romanno A. Head and Robert I. Morrison, both 22.
Prosecutors said the slayings were part of a month-long series of crimes that stretched from Virginia to New York in late 2001 and early 2002. Jamel S. Crawford, 28, of Woodbridge, a key prosecution witness, is also charged in the shootings. He is scheduled to go on trial next month, and prosecutors have agreed they will not seek the death penalty in return for his cooperation.
During his opening statement yesterday, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney James A. Willett told the Prince William Circuit Court jury that Andrews killed not out of anger or greed but as "blood sport." He said Andrews and Crawford planned to rob Head and Morrison, but Andrews decided to shoot the victims.
"You are, in all likelihood, looking at the single most dangerous person you have or ever will encounter," Willett said. "The defendant is a person who has killed and killed and killed again."
The shootings began Dec. 12, 2001, when Clayton Breeding, 24, of Woodbridge was fatally shot in the parking lot of Rippon Middle School in Woodbridge. On Jan. 2, 2002, just miles away, Head and Morrison were slain in the apartment they shared near Dumfries.
Andrews's legal team questioned Crawford's credibility. They said that Crawford knew Head and that the two had discussed dealing drugs together. Moreover, Crawford suspected that Head was planning to rob him, they said.
"He's cooperating to try and save himself," defense attorney Mark J. Petrovich said. "At the close of the evidence, you'll all agree it is Jamel Crawford who is the responsible codefendant."
Crawford told jurors yesterday that he was driving on Jan. 2, 2002, when he saw Andrews, whom he had met in the neighborhood in November 2001, walking along the road. He offered him a ride, and the two hatched the robbery plan.
"Andrews was supposed to go into the apartment, buy some weed," Crawford testified. "He was supposed to get everybody into a secure area. I'd go up after he made some signal or sound."