The jury found Rapheal Llamar Simmons, 24, guilty of shooting Oxford residents Barry Wright and Lorenzo Gilmer during an alleged drug deal in 2012. Wright was pronounced dead at Regional Medical Center on July 21 and Gilmer’s injury resulted in paralysis, according to assistant district attorney Randy Moeller.
Moeller told The Star by phone today that the incident took place in Gilmer’s home on Alice Street in Oxford. Simmons and two other men, Cameron White and Terry Thomas, went to Gilmer’s home to engage in an alleged drug deal, Moeller said.
The deal involved several ounces of crack, Moeller said, and during the trial both Simmons and Gilmer continually disagreed on who was buying and selling the drugs. The officers who responded to the shooting testified that they found no money or drugs in the home, Moeller said.
According to Moeller, Simmons went inside the home while White and Thomas stayed outside. Simmons testified during the trial that he thought the deal was going “bad,” so he pulled out his handgun, Moeller said.
“My client felt the only way to prevent himself from being attacked and robbed was to show his weapon,” Dave Johnson, the attorney appointed to defend Simmons, told The Star by phone today.
Moeller said Simmons testified that when he showed his gun, Wright attacked him.
“When he was attacked he felt like he had no choice but to use the weapon to defend himself,” Johnson said.
Moeller said that during the incident, Simmons shot Wright four times – once in his hip, his chest, his back and in the back of his leg, and Simmons shot Gilmer once in the stomach. Gilmer’s dog, a Shih Tzu and Chihuahua mix named Diva, was also shot and injured, Moeller said. (The dog was treated by a veterinarian, recovered and was later adopted by another family, he said.)
Moeller said today that Simmons testified that after the shooting, the group returned to Talladega, where he sold the gun. Johnson did not dispute that account.
Moeller said that after the shooting, Gilmer and Wright were taken to Regional Medical Center for treatment. Paramedics testified that Wright was alive when he arrived at the hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead shortly after.
Another prosecutor of the case, Sheila Field, said that Wright died an hour after he arrived at the hospital. Gilmer, whose spine was injured in the accident, has been in a wheelchair ever since. The bullet is still inside of him, Field said.
Simmons was in the Calhoun County Jail today along with White and Thomas, who are unable to make bond, Moeller said. Both White and Thomas are being held on two separate charges of murder and attempted murder and have bonds set at $500,000 each.
Field said the two are expected to be tried early next year.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.
Editor's note: This story has been modified to correct the fate of the dog Diva, who was injured in the shooting, but was treated, recovered and later adopted by another family.