< Back to news items
TRUDALE TERRY GUILTY OF MURDER
June 27, 2015
For Immediate Release
Newport News, Virginia
NEWPORT NEWS — Michael "Boogie" Robinson fell backward onto 22nd Street after being shot several times during an argument just after 2 a.m. on June 28, 2014.
Then, according to three witnesses who testified at Terry's trial in Newport News Circuit Court on Monday, Trudale Terry walked up as Robinson lay on the ground with his hand out, pleading for Terry not to shoot again.
Instead, those witnesses testified, Terry fired three more shots into Robinson.
"He went over to him and finished him off," said Nicole Pugh, who was standing outside her home at the time and whose cousin, Shante Payne, was dating Robinson.
Then, witnesses said, Terry turned and began firing at a 1999 Ford van with Payne in the passenger seat and another woman, Laura Henderson, behind the wheel. Henderson sped off, witnesses said, while Terry gave chase, still firing.
One of the bullets lodged in Henderson's elbow, while anoher grazed her back.
Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg found Terry, now 24, guilty of 13 felonies — first-degree murder, maiming, two counts of attempted murder and nine gun charges. "I find the evidence overwhelmingly sufficient … on each and every charge," Sugg said.
Robinson's slaying took place a week after another neighborhood man, Rachard Timothy Lewis, 19, was gunned down on the same block. In fact, a candlelight vigil for Lewis had taken place on the block earlier that evening.
Payne testified Monday that she and her cousin, Pugh, had arrived near a home on 22nd Street sometime after midnight, with people still milling about.
Robinson, 28, and Trudale — who had known each other for years — were arguing, with Trudale often "grabbing at his waist" to expose a handgun, she said. But after about an hour of that, Payne said, she was "ready to go" and asked Henderson to give her a ride home.
Robinson, she said, began to open the van's side passenger door to also get in. But she said Terry also came over, with the men's argument resuming as the two women waited in the van about 10 feet away.
After several more minutes of arguing, she said, Terry gave a "hateful smirk," and "the gun came up, and he just started shooting" at Robinson, saying Terry fired "three more shots" as Robinson lay on the ground.
During cross-examination, Payne acknowledged that Robinson told Terry at one point that, "You got your gun, so I'm gonna go get my gun." She said Robinson meant he would go home to get the weapon, and that he wasn't armed.
Henderson, the van's driver, also said Terry shot Robinson as he lay on the ground. She said Robinson "put his hand up," but that Terry "smiled and shot him again … three or four more times," adding that Terry then "turned and started shooting at us."
Robinson was struck five times, with a medical examiner calling three of those wounds — to his left neck, chest and abdomen — "severe" and independently fatal.
A forensic examiner testified that the bullets, cartridge casings and fragments recovered from the scene all matched the same gun, a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun that was not recovered.
It wasn't clear from court testimony what the argument was about, though Robinson's relatives said later that Robinson was good at fist-fighting and would have wanted to resolve any dispute that way.
Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Valerie Spencer Muth said in her closing argument that Terry felt "disrespected in front of his boys" in the area.
"This wasn't just one shot," said Muth, who prosecuted the case with Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Amy Pyecha. "He shot him over and over and over, to make sure that boy never left that scene."
Muth said it’s “only by a miracle” that the two people in the van weren’t killed.
Terry's lawyer, James Ellenson, argued that Terry might not have even been on the scene, but at a birthday party in Hampton. The lone defense witness was a woman who testified that Terry attended her party that night, but that she was too drunk after 9:10 p.m. to know when he left.
But Ellenson contended that if Terry was on the scene, he shot Robinson in self-defense — asserting Robinson could have retrieved a gun from the van when he came over to it.
Ellenson also said the crucial evidence tying Terry to the shooting came from the three eyewitnesses, not from "physical evidence" such as ballistics or DNA.
Ellenson also argued that Henderson — who acknowledged running an illegal “shot house” across the street from the shooting site — can’t be believed because she’s a “convicted felon.”
During a break in the trial, Sammy DeLoatch, 60, Robinson's step-grandfather who helped to raise him, said he greatly misses his grandson. "Family gatherings, Christmas, cookouts," he said. "You look around, and you don't see him. I miss him."
He said he keeps everyone, to include Terry's family, in his prayers. "The Lord has his way," he said. "I don't argue with that point."
Terry will be sentenced on Nov. 20.
Dujardin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4749
Copyright © 2015, Daily Press