Greenville, MS—Geor’Barri Wells, 26, of Leland, was found Guilty of Second Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault Saturday in Washington County following a four-day jury trial.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, May 10, 2018, officers of the Greenville Police Department were called to the lobby of the Main Street station to assist a citizen who was frantically knocking on the door. There, they made contact with a man who had informed them that his nephew had just been shot on Walnut St. near the Greenville Inn & Suites. The officers rushed the half-block away and found Shaquille Townson deceased and being held in the arms of a friend. Inside of the hotel lobby, they made contact with Delnica Mason who had also been shot. Additional officers, investigators, emergency medical personnel were called to the scene.
Detectives arrived on scene and initiated a homicide investigation. The team of investigators collected evidence, identified witnesses, and reviewed video surveillance from the nearby hotel that captured the shooting. Geor’Barri Wells was identified as the shooter and law enforcement personnel began searching for him. He surrendered himself within hours of the shooting.
The investigation revealed that a verbal disagreement from earlier that night between Wells and a friend of Townson’s had reignited just outside of the hotel when Wells exited the hotel and stood on the sidewalk near Townson, Mason, and others who had been there hanging out and talking. Wells and Townson exchanged words before the altercation turned physical. Following the fight, Wells pulled a gun and began shooting at Townson. Townson was shot in the back and Mason was shot in the arm.
During the course of the week-long trial, Assistant District Attorneys Kaylon McCou and John Herzog, Jr. painted a picture of the scene and the events surrounding the fatal shooting to the jury through evidence and witness testimony. Witnesses present for the initial disagreement testified that it only rose to a verbal argument before being quickly extinguished. Wells remained inside of the hotel while Townson and his friends went outside. Those present at the time of the shooting offered testimony that, outside, Townson and Wells argued before getting into a fight in which Townson got the best of Wells. Following the fight, Wells drew a firearm and began shooting at Townson. At trial, Wells testified in his defense that he was being fought by Townson and another person at the time he pulled out the gun. The testimony of the other witnesses to the fight and shooting contradicted his version. Wells also testified that as he was being jumped, he pulled his gun, started shooting wildly, and ran, and that as he was running, he looked back and observed Townson fall. The attorneys for the State introduced video, however, that showed Townson, Mason, and others running from a shooting Wells who then chased Townson around a car and shot him in the back—Townson fell and Wells walked toward his body extending the arm he had the gun in. The official autopsy report revealed that Townson was shot in the left side of his back and that the bullet ripped through his lung and aorta causing an internal hemorrhage that resulted in Townson choking on his on blood.
ADAs McCou and Herzog argued to the jury that Wells’ claim of self-defense was completely refuted by the witnesses on scene, the video surveillance, and the physical evidence and that his own contradictions on the witness stand demonstrated his guilt. The jury announced its verdict in open court at the Washington County Courthouse at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday—Guilty of Second Degree Murder and Aggravated Assault. Wells was remanded to the custody of the Washington County Sheriff to await sentencing. He faces up to 60 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kaylon McCou and John Herzog, Jr. “Too often, we see fist fights turn deadly when one person takes it upon himself to pull a gun. And while we respect the right of every individual to defend themselves, we will not tolerate false claims of self-defense and those choosing to kill under the disguise of defending themselves will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Chasing someone and shooting them in the back will never be justified,” McCou stated.
The Office of the District Attorney is deeply appreciative for the efforts of the Greenville Police Department, the cooperation of the witnesses and local businesses, and, as always, the service of those who answered the call to jury service.