Monday, November 13, 2023–6:38 p.m.
-Adam Carey, Rome News-Tribune-
This story is possible because of a news-sharing agreement with the Rome News-Tribune. More information can be found at northwestgeorgianews.com.
Likely the last words a Rome woman heard before being shot to death in May 2020 were “It’s OK, we’re not going to hurt you.” But it wasn’t true.
“And then I heard the sound of a pistol slide as it was cocked,” Christopher Pullen testified Monday.
Taking the stand in the trial against Desmond Levonta Brown, Pullen had been in the car with Truvenia Campbell and Armuchee High student Vanita Nicole Richardson on the night the sisters were killed.
Brown faces the death penalty in Alabama on capital murder charges for the killing of the sisters.
Pullen testified that he saw Brown shoot Campbell three times after the sisters were pulled from Brown’s car in Alabama, where they had been driven because Brown believed they had stolen his wallet earlier in the evening.
Pullen said Brown demanded and grabbed Campbell’s purse, and when she jerked it back sharply he shot her in the thigh, followed by two more shots.
The younger sister, Richardson, handed over her purse willingly but was also shot and killed. Pullen testified that he didn’t see who shot her.
“They were more than just sisters,” Cherokee County District Attorney Summer McWhorter Summerford said. “They were friends who also had the same father.”
Summerford’s opening arguments detailed the evidence against Brown, including DNA evidence from the half-sisters left in the trunk of his car.
“When we’re done making our case,” Summerford said. “We’re going to ask you to convict him of capital murder.”
Summerford told jurors the sisters were at a party at Brown’s house and he believed that one of them had stolen his wallet. So Brown and two others, Pullen and Devin Lashawn Watts, invited the girls to accompany them as they did a quick drug deal in Alabama.
However, it was all a ruse to get the girls in the car and coerce them into giving the wallet back, which Summerford described as containing hundreds of dollars.
Brown stopped and forced the girls out, asking them about the wallet. Both said they didn’t know what he was talking about. Brown then allowed them back in the car.
However, a few minutes later Brown stopped again, which is when the sisters were killed.
Brown, Watts and Pullen then drove away, leaving the sister’s bodies in the Alabama field, but returned about 15 minutes later and placed the bodies in the trunk of Brown’s car and put plastic bags over their heads.
While driving around with the two women’s bodies in their trunk, prosecutors said, the men bought three sets of gloves, a Perrier water and a pack of Black & Mild cigars at a gas station.
They then threw the bodies of Richardson and Campbell off a bridge in Rome, where they were discovered the next morning by Georgia Department of Transportation employees working on bridge repairs.
The men then fled to Atlanta area, prosecutors said, to dispose of some of the evidence.
Defense Attorney Robert Ray told jurors in opening statements that Brown is innocent until proven guilty, and proving guilt is the job of the prosecution.
“We don’t have to prove anything,” Ray said. “The burden is on the prosecution. Pay attention to the holes in their case.”
During those remarks Ray attacked Pullen, telling the jury that the witness is a convicted felon and liar who hid his true involvement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to protect himself for months, before changing his testimony.