Testimony in the first-degree murder trial for the 2015 death of a Muskogee man began Tuesday for one of three men charged in the slaying.
Attorneys for the State of Oklahoma and for the defense presented opening statements in the trial of Mark Monta Logan of Muskogee.
Logan, 29, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Robert John Guenther, 26, also of Muskogee.
Following instructions to the jury from Judge Bret A. Smith, Muskogee Assistant District Attorney Larry Edwards read the official complaint then presented a brief statement about the events leading up to the death of Guenther.
"(Guenther) was placed in an (SUV) and taken to North 24th Street and West 40th Street where he was shot and killed," Edwards told the jury. "You will hear testimony about the people who saw (Guenther) being taken in an (SUV), people who were sitting on the porch watching as the (SUV) pulled in. You will hear from a resident at 2011 Denver.
"You will also hear from people who were in the vehicle — Thristian Hunter, who is in DOC custody on a related charge out of this case, and Benrick Carter Jr., who is in prison on a related charge in this case."
Hunter, 27, and Carter, 26, are both in prison, having pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping of Guenther. First-degree murder charges on both in regards to the death of Guenther are pending.
Guenther's body was found on North 24th Street outside the Muskogee city limits on the evening of May 19, 2015, with several gunshots to his body. When a deputy arrived, he found six 9 mm shell casings and one 45 mm ACP shell casing.
Guenther was reportedly last seen alive earlier that day, working on his bicycle in the front yard of a home in the 2000 block of Denver Street. A witness testified during preliminary hearings on the kidnapping charges that she saw an SUV pull up, and three men got out.
She testified she saw those men coerce Guenther into the vehicle. However, Hunter said Guenther willingly got into the vehicle.
The investigation revealed Guenther had been shot five times — twice in the back, once in the hand, once in the pelvis and once in the arm, according to a report from the medical examiner. Guenther also sustained several blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso and extremities, according to the report.
Defense attorney Steve Money told jurors to be aware of the witnesses the state was presenting to supports its case against his client.
"You are going to hear from Stacy Murphy, because the events that started on May 2015 started in her front yard," Money said. "The problem and the challenge for the jury I think is this — Stacy Murphy tells different stories. One time she sees this, one time she sees that. One time Mr. Logan has a gun, one time he doesn't. One time Mr. Guenther's forced into a car, one time he's not.
"She's also going to tell you that she was taking methamphetamine and that she was messed up on drugs. That's the problem with Stacy Murphy's testimony, and just as the judge gave you in the instructions, that's for you to decide how much credibility she has."
Money also attacked the credibility of Hunter and Carter.
"Thristian Hunter is being brought in from the Department of Corrections to testify," he said. "Thristian Hunter has made a deal with the state of Oklahoma. And the interesting part about that to me is that he hasn't pled to anything — it's like 'Let's see what he says and then we'll decide if he can have that deal.' I would suggest to the jury that that's an important factor.
"When you take the credibility of a witness, what do they have to gain or lose by what they say?"
Smith told the jury that he hopes to have the trial wrapped up by Thursday.