The second day of trial for two defendants in the murder of Wendy Fisher centered largely around where the accused claim they were at the time of the murder — far away from Fisher’s — but authorities said their cell phones said otherwise.
During the court proceedings on Jan. 15, the jury and family and friends of Fisher and the defendants Trayon Washington and Pat Brown saw recorded interviews with several people. Perhaps the most telling portion of testimony came at the end of the day when Sgt. Rusty Hardeman took the stand to talk about the location of the defendants’ cell phones.
Hardeman told the jury that cell phone service providers keep a record of a phone’s location based on what tower is used or what tower is closest by. This helps the companies’ service and to eliminate dropped calls. It also helps law enforcement officers recreate a timeline of where a person was at a certain time.
Harden explained the main ways officers use this information.
“There are two ways using cell phone information is helpful. First, there is real time data. This is helpful for a kidnapping victim or if police are searching for a suspect,” he said. “The other is archived data, which is what this is. This is when a court order for the information is issued and the cell phone company provides us with the date, time and tower used.”
This is most notable for Brown and Washington because in interviews with Mobile police they denied even being near 5554 Racine Drive, which is where the fatal shooting occurred.
Around 6:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, Fisher yelled at the driver of a passing car to slow down in her residential neighborhood, but the driver stopped completely and began to shout at Fisher. Prosecutors believe Washington, a 17-year-old passenger in the car driven by Brown, then exited the vehicle, pulled out a handgun and fired three shots at Fisher, one of which struck her in the chest. Both men are charged with murder in the case.
When Brown and Washington were interviewed separately by Cpl. Donald Pears and Sgt. Charles Bagsby, the defendants said they were somewhere far from Racine Avenue on July 7, 2012.
Brown said he was at a party and then went to the movies on Schillinger Road. Washington said he was at his “baby mama’s” house and then rode around with friends.
When Hardeman began to go over Brown’s cell phone records, the information from T-Mobile suggested otherwise.
“At 6:18 p.m. (on July 7, 2012,) there was a phone call from Pat Brown and it showed that he was using the tower on Mississippi Street, which is one block west of 5554 Racine Ave.,” he said. “He was still there for phone calls at 6:19 p.m. and 6:22 p.m.
“From 6:36 p.m. to 7:16 p.m. he was basically in the parking lot of the old Greer’s, which is nearby. At 7:37 p.m., he was at Schillinger and Airport and stayed there until 7:53 p.m.”
Just as Hardeman started to talk about Washington’s whereabouts according to his cell phone, Judge Michael Youngpeter decided to break for the day until Jan. 16.
Earlier in the day the trial continued at a slower pace, as prosecutors called law enforcement witnesses who primarily testified about the procedures used to collect evidence during the investigation.
But the court also heard four different statements Washington gave police beginning with the first indicating he was at a block party in Thomasville at the time of the shooting. Washington is accused of pulling the trigger, while Brown, his brother, served as a getaway driver.
Other passengers in the car implicated Washington within days of the shooting, but in a second statement, Washington said he had not heard about a homicide and was with his family when it occurred.
During a break in the proceedings, Wendy’s mother Carol Fisher said the trial has been difficult.
“It’s taxing, listening to all of the people and the details but I understand the process and without the process we’re not going to have justice for our daughter,” she said. “[Wendy] was spunky, vivacious, beautiful and a great mom to her kids. If she knew you had problem she would be there for you. No matter what the results we know the District Attorney’s office has done an impeccable job and we believe justice will come eventually.”