TYLER, TEXAS (KETK) – Judge Jack Skeen has found Trumaine Washington guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for his threat to “shoot up” a Tyler
Washington showed little emotion after the verdict was read, a stark contrast to his testimony earlier Tuesday morning.
Skeen spent just over two hours in his chambers to deliberate before returning the verdict.
A sentencing hearing for Washington has been set for March 19 at 10 a.m. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Washington gave emotional testimony to his defense Tuesday morning and had several tense exchanges with prosecutors during the second day of his trial.
The defense rested after just calling three witnesses, including Washington himself, to make their case to 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen. A conviction could him in jail for up to twenty years.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Zachary Davis called Washington’s actions “stupid… but that doesn’t mean he was threatening anybody.”
Prosecutors finished by saying that Washington’s entire defense hinges that everyone involved had to make a misconception for his testimony to make any sense and that he was still displaying a handgun for everyone to see.
Washington testified that he had never meant to threaten anyone and that he did not want to scare anyone. He apologized for the trauma he may have given to employees or customers after several testified on Monday about the emotional trauma they had at the time
“As soon as I saw [the reports], I started crying… It was too much, I’m not that type of person,” he said through tears. He broke down crying multiple times during his testimony.
Washington also said that he had taken the gun out because he was going to buy ammo at the back of the store after being denied an exchange by a manager. He stated that he was mistaken by Walmart policy that he could have the gun out, but just couldn’t point it at people and that he simply wasn’t thinking.
Prosecutors fired back that Washington clearly had the gun out in the store more than 400 feet from the stand where he could buy the ammo. He also questioned Washington’s motives and that he always seemed to have an excuse for the incident.
“You were threatening people. That gun makes you feel good!”
Washington responded that he wanted the ammo to have for a class to get a handgun license.
When asked why he didn’t cooperate with authorities initially, Washington claimed that he had previously been a victim of police brutality and that he was scared. He began to hyperventilate in court so loudly that Judge Skeen called for a brief recess.
When court resumed, Washinton said that Ivory Peavey, the prosecution’s key witness, was wrong when he testified that Washington said: “I could shoot up everyone in the whole store.” Washington denied this exchange ever occurred.
Peavey was the only witness to testify that Washington ever made this threat. Assistant store manager James Miles said in an interview that he never heard Washington say that. He also said that “When I saw [Washington] put the gun in the backpack, I didn’t see a threat anymore.”
The video played in court from surveillance cameras inside the store did not have any audio.
Washington testified that he never loaded the gun, going against multiple witnesses who testified on Monday that they believed he had. When he was later arrested, the gun was found unloaded and the bullets were in his pocket
Prosecution witnesses testified about a mask that Washington was wearing on the day of the incident. The defense produced a doctor’s note that it was worn for medical reasons due to severe acne.
The defense team for Trumaine Washington is set to make their case Tuesday morning in his trial where is charged with threatening to “shoot up” a Tyler Walmart back in September.
The prosecution rested their case on Monday afternoon after calling eight witnesses over three hours. Several were Walmart employees who testified that Washington seemed “agitated.”
Washington waived his right to a jury trial, instead opting for a bench trial in front of 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen.
During his cross-examination of witnesses on Monday, defense lawyer Zachary Davis had many witnesses admit that they themselves had not actually seen the events unfold after Washington was denied an item return because he did not have a receipt.
Eddie Pate, the sports goods manager for the store, said that after the incident up front, he sold Washington 200 rounds of ammo and a large Bowie knife. Davis pressed Pate that Washington “did not seem agitated” and that he “never felt threatened.”
In a prosecution re-direct, Pate then stated he would not have sold Washington the ammo if he knew of the incident with customer service.
Prosecutors had as their star witnesses Ivory Peavey, an asset protection associate, who said he saw Washington pull the gun and that he “never took his eyes off it.”
Peavey said that he believed Washington to be “an active shooter” and that Washington threatened “I could shoot you and everyone in this store.”
Washington is facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, he will face up to 20 years in prison.
The incident was at a moment of high tension at Walmarts across the state of Texas. Just weeks before, a man killed 22 people in a mass shooting at a store in El Paso. The shooter admitted that he was purposefully targeting Mexicans.
He has been charged with state and federal hate crimes and faces the death penalty.