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Hearing, testimony from slain FVSU student's friends starts trial against alleged killer

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

by Brittany Miller, WGXA

PEACH COUNTY, Ga. (WGXA) -- An evidentiary hearing was held Tuesday morning as the murder trial against a Fort Valley man gets underway.

DeMarcus Little is on trial for malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault for the February 2020 death of his girlfriend, Fort Valley State University student Anitra Gunn.

Tuesday morning started with an evidentiary hearing as to whether Gunn's friends can testify about statements that Anitra made to them.

The defense called the move "hearsay."

But speaking on behalf of the state, Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskin said the witnesses' testimony showed they knew about the "intimate issues" in Gunn's life. She said the hearing was meant to establish trustworthiness and avoid hearsay objections as the trial moves forward.

ADA Baskin also cited previous cases as to why the evidentiary hearing would be permitted. She specifically cited Georgia statute 807, which allows for residual hearsay when the person, in this case Anitra Gunn, cannot be in the courtroom to speak for themselves.

In response, defense attorney Benjamin Davis said, "we have to do some unpacking with regards to what the state said."

Baskin claimed that the three witnesses testifying on Tuesday would make similar statements, which he called redundant and asked the court to reconsider.

Judge Connie Williford said that residual hearsay under 24-8-807 is something that's to be used rarely. She said residual hearsay should be able to provide evidence, especially concerning the relationship between Gunn and Little.

She pointed out that the witnesses in the courtroom on Tuesday all knew Gunn for just a few years at most.

Judge Williford ruled that testimony from Gunn's friends when it came to what Gunn told them, would be inadmissible in court.

She ruled that the witnesses could testify, but only concerning things that they'd physically seen or experienced, and not about statements that Gunn made to them.

Ciara Stewart, a close friend of Gunn, testified that they lived together on Church St., but Stewart moved out before February 2020. She recalled talking with Gunn about personal issues like dating, including Little.

Laurelle Plummer, a friend of Gunn's since 2017, also testified. Plummer said she and Gunn talked or texted daily, including about dating. Stewart said Gunn confided in her about Little "all the time" with both the good and the bad.

During cross-examination, Stewart told Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Kristen Nunez that she had never known Little and Gunn to get into physical fights.

A third friend of Gunn's, Veronica Talton, also testified. Talton said she met Gunn through Stewart and knew her for two years, including working together but never knew Little.


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