Jermaine Phillips Found Not Guilty in Wahnish Way Murder Trial

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By: Christopher Gros
February 26, 2015

UPDATE: A verdict has come down in the murder trial of Jermaine Phillips. He has been found not guilty on both charges, including first degree murder.

By: Lanetra Bennett
February 26, 2015

UPDATE: The case has been sent to the jury for deliberation.

WCTV will bring you more updates as they become available.

By: Lanetra Bennett
February 26, 2015

Tallahassee, FL - A man on trial for murder took the stand today and explained why he shot and killed his girlfriend's estranged husband.

"Did you shoot him to death?" Prosecutor Jack Campbell asked. Jermaine Phillips answered. "That's not my intentions, sir." "Did you shoot him to death?" "Yes, sir." "Okay."

During day two of his murder trial Thursday, Jermaine Phillips told the jury that Donyel Safford came to his home on Wahnish Way in Tallahassee late one night in May 2013, and demanded that Phillips move out.

Phillips had been living with Safford's estranged wife, Sierra Safford, for more than two years.

Sierra took the witness stand during the trial Thursday morning. She said, "We're on the porch, he pulled his shirt up with his right hand. He told Jermaine, he said you might as well leave. He said you might as well call your brothers and leave because I'll be back. I took that action to mean that it was a possible weapon."

Phillips says he called his brother, who came over and gave him a gun. Shortly after, Safford came back to Phillips and Sierra's home as promised.

Phillips says he he asked Safford why should he move out of his own home. He says he was sitting on the front porch steps when Safford walked toward him. Phillips demonstrates in the courtroom what happened next. He says, "He pulled up his shirt reaching for the gun. I lean back. I grab the gun. I shoot. He turns like this. I shoot right now. Pow. He goes down just like this, spins, makes a 180 degree turn. He pulls up the shirt again, I see the gun again. I shoot, boom, boom. He falls."

Phillips says he then dumped the gun in his neighbor's trash and left. When they prosecutor asked why did he run and spend the night elsewhere in hiding, Phillips says because he knew no one would believe his story had he stayed and called the police.

Phillips got emotional on the witness stand. He says, "I'll say it to the family, I apologize, if I could take it all back." Then he put his head down on his arms on the table.

Closing arguments were held late Thursday afternoon. The jury is expected to start deliberating this evening. We will keep you posted.

By: Lanetra Bennett
February 26, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Day two of the trial for a man accused of a 2013 murder on Wahnish Way is underway.

Jermaine Phillips testified that the victim came to his home demanding that he leaves his own home. Phillips' girlfriend, whom he'd been living with for more than two years, was not officially divorced from the victim.

Phillips says the victim pulled up his shorts that night and flashed a gun and Phillips then ended up shooting the victim multiple times.

Phillips' girlfriend, Sierra Stafford, is also testifying and corroborates Phillips' story.

By Julie Montanaro
February 25, 2015

A Tallahassee man is now on trial for shooting and killing a man in his front yard on Wahnish Way.

Jermaine Phillips is accused of shooting his girlfriend's estranged husband and his attorneys say Phillips will take the stand.

"You are making me relive a nightmare,"Christopher Rumph said as he testified Wednesday morning.

Rumph says he stood next to the porch in shock as Jermaine Phillips opened fire on Donyel Safford.

"Donyel and his wife walk around the corner, they came from right 'round the corner and he jumped up and told him and said 'I ain't never tried you like that' and started shooting."

Safford tried to outrun the bullets, Rumph testified, running down the drive and down the street.

By the time Rumph found Safford hiding behind a neighbor's house his friend could no longer speak.

"I was calling him, calling him, calling him. Evidently, he couldn't answer me," Rumph said.

Phillips is accused of first degree murder for shooting Safford four times outside a home on Wahnish Way in May 2013.

Prosecutors say Phillips was living with Safford's estranged wife and lost his temper when Safford showed up to talk to his wife about coming home.

Defense attorneys paint a much different picture. They contend Phillips had been living with Safford's wife for years, providing for her four children and was awakened by Safford in the middle of the night.

"When a high, drunk guy rolls up into his yard, blasting his music, and jumps out of the car with his boys and starts saying 'daddy's home. This is my yard. This is my house, and you are going home'" Safford's attorney Nathan Prince said. "He will take the stand to tell his side of the story."

"Is Donyel armed? Does he have a gun or knife or anything like that?" prosecutor Jack Campbell asked Rumph.

"No, sir."

"Prior to the shooting, did you or anybody else do anything aggressive?" Campbell asked.

"No, sir. No, sir. No, sir. Not at all," Rumph said.

The state rested its case late this afternoon. The defense will begin tomorrow morning.

Press Release: Tallahassee Police Department

Members or the Tallahassee Police Department and the North Florida Fugitive Task Force have made an arrest in the homicide of Donyel Safford.

Jermaine Phillips, a black male with a date of birth of 11/26/73, has been arrested in connection with the homicide.

Phillips was taken into custody without incident and has been transported to the Leon County Jail.

Investigators are continuing to interview all witnesses and process evidence in this case and are asking anyone with information to call (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

Press Release: Tallahassee Police Department

Tallahassee, FL - This morning at approximately 12:00am, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to the 2800 block of Wahnish Way in reference to a male being shot. Upon arrival, officers discovered victim, Donyel Safford, a black male with a date of birth of 04/21/77 had been shot several times. Safford was transported to a local hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries.

TPD’s Criminal Investigation Division, along with Forensic Technicians responded to the scene and assumed the primary role in the investigation.

TPD’s Criminal Investigation Division is pursuing all leads and asks community members with information about this case to call TPD at 891-4200 or the Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 574-TIPS.

Crime Stoppers does not want your name, just your information and you may be eligible for a cash reward.

Please remember, "If you see something, say something, do something."

By: Julie Montanaro
May 17, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Police are not yet releasing any more information about a shooting on Wahnish Way.

Neighbors tell us they heard about five shots. Crime tape still flutters from the fence at the house on the corner of Wahnish and Famcee and there's blood splattered on the sidewalk and curb out front.

Police are not confirming the victim's identity or commenting on his condition. They are not commenting on a suspect or a motive at this time either.

By: Garin Flowers
May 17, 2013 1:43 a.m.

Tallahassee, FL - At approximately 12 a.m., the Tallahassee Police Department received a call that a male had been shot in the area of 2800 Wahnish Way near FAMU.

TPD says they responded and found a black male in his 30's with gunshot wounds.

Police say he was transported to a local hospital, but are unclear of the extent of his injuries.

Police did not confirm if they had a suspect, or any have details around the shooting at this time.

TPD is still on the scene investigating.

Anyone that may have information about this incident is asked to contact the Tallahassee Police Department at 850-891-4200.

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