Joey Marshall told a Federal Court jury on Thursday that after Atlanta restaurant operator Guy Luck had been murdered in Collegedale, Sir Jack Matthews told shooter Rejon Taylor, "You're a soldier. You busted him."
Marshall was testifying in the case in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Taylor in the 2003 slaying in Collegedale.
Marshall and Matthews, who is due to testify next, earlier pleaded guilty and are facing life prison sentences. Defense attorneys said they are hoping for shorter sentences by aiding the government's case against Taylor.
Marshall, who was 18 at the time of the incident, described how he and Taylor stole mail from Guy Luck's mailbox. He said on one occasion they saw mail spilling from the Luck mailbox, and they stopped and took it all with them. He said they later entered his Buckhead home several times to steal cash and credit cards.
He said they would disable the alarm system before entering. He said on one trip Taylor saw papers that indicated it was Guy Luck who had brought credit card charges against him in nearby Rockdale County, Ga.
He said Taylor eventually decided to rob Luck after seeing him carrying home cash from his successful French restaurant. He said Taylor had eaten at the restaurant, and "when he saw the expensive menu, he figured that Mr. Luck made a lot of money."
The witness said, "We started to think we ought to try to rob him to get the money."
He said Taylor wanted to carry out the robbery on the night of Aug. 5, 2003, but Marshall said he had other plans.
Marshall said early the next morning that Taylor and Matthews picked him up. He said Taylor was driving his mother's 1996 burgundy Impala. He said it was the first time they had gone out with guns. They had a .38-caliber and a 9-mm.
He said they drove to the Luck residence just off I-75 near West Paces Ferry Road and saw his white van there. He said the plan was for him and Matthews to go up to the house and to capture the restaurant operator when he walked outside. But he said as he was waiting, he decided he didn't want to do it that way. He said, "Something just didn't feel right to me."
He said he walked back to the car and Matthews followed. He said Matthews told Taylor that he (Marshall) had gotten scared.
The witness said it was then decided that Matthews would go up by the van and capture him. He said he and Taylor then drove around and he noticed in the rear view mirror that Matthews was escorting his hostage down the driveway. He said they went back and Taylor got out.
He said he then began driving the Impala, following behind the van that was being driven by Taylor.
The witness said they drove onto the freeway and gradually began driving north on I-75 toward Chattanooga. He said they did not have cell phones and he wondered what was going on. He said they eventually stopped to get gas and Taylor said he was driving to find a place to ditch the van.
He said they drove on into Tennessee, then exited at Collegedale and began going on back roads. He said Taylor stopped the van several times in driveways and reversed direction. He said he was getting frustrated and having trouble keeping up.
Marshall said he then saw the van go off the side of the road and into a ditch. He said he saw Matthews get out and look under his arms and then Taylor got out. He said both walked toward the Impala.
He said Taylor flipped the tag down on the car and then got in and told him, "Go. Go. Go. Get out of here."
He said, "I pushed the pedal as hard as I could." He said he ran three red lights before getting back on I-75 going south.
Marshall said he drove the Impala at speeds above miles per hour heading back toward Atlanta.
He said Taylor was not saying anything, but Matthews said his own gun had jammed. Matthews said, "Rejon, you're a solider. You busted him."
He said he was told that the restaurant operator had made a move and had to be shot.
He said Matthews had been shot and was bleeding profusely. He said he kept asking him how he was.
He said they had to stop for a wreck and Taylor got out and flipped the tag back up. He said Taylor got some clothes and told Matthews to put them on and get down in the back seat so no one would see all the blood.
He said he took Matthews to a hospital and they concocted a story about what had happened to him.
Marshall said before he got out, Taylor told him to cover up the car that night, then he would have someone come by and haul it off.
Marshall, who said he only told the full truth to authorities last Friday after giving several incomplete statements, maintained that he never knew that Guy Luck was in the van until after he was told he had been shot.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Bill Ortwein asked him why, under his version, he had pleaded guilty and taken a mandatory life sentence. Marshall said, "I was involved."
He said the plan was to rob the victim, not to kill him.
Marshall, who said he was the cellmate of Taylor at the Hamilton County Jail for a year and a half until there was a failed escape attempt, said he dropped out of school in the 11th grade. He said he had gotten numerous suspensions, including when a boxcutter was found on him.
He said he began selling crack cocaine and marijuana.
Marshall also said he had gotten his girlfriend to write two different versions of a bogus alibi for him.
He said he and Taylor did not strike any guards during the escape attempt, though some of the others in the plot did.
Robert Westlake, another Buckhead resident, said there were credit cards and checkbooks taken from him home, including a leather packet of credit cards.
He said he got a call from a police officer saying the packet had been found in an apartment in Rockdale County.
He said he also got calls that someone was using his credit cards and using a fake driver's license with his name and some of his information on it.