This article contains graphic descriptions.
FORT WORTH — Amos Joseph Wells kept his head down as video of the carnage he is accused of causing flashed across a courtroom screen Monday morning.
As the victims’ family members cried — some so distraught that they left the courtroom — jurors watched as emergency crews worked desperately to save the lives of Wells’ estranged 22-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Chanice Reed, and her 10-year-old brother, Eddie McCuin Jr., inside the family’s east Fort Worth house.
The video was shot by a police sergeant’s body camera.
Outside the home, other paramedics tended to the wounded pair’s mother, Annette Reed, who had been crying for help when officers first arrived — despite a gunshot wound to the face.
Despite their efforts, all three would die, as well as Chanice Reed’s unborn son.
“This defendant slaughtered three generations out of one family,” Lloyd Whelchel, who is prosecuting the case along with Kevin Rousseau, told jurors in opening statements Monday. “He took four innocent lives that day.”
Tarrant County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Wells.
He has been jailed since shortly after the July 1, 2013, slayings, when he walked into the Forest Hill Police Department and announced, “I’ve done something bad.”
Though Wells is on trial for the deaths of Chanice Reed and her mother, Annette Reed, jurors also learned about the two other lives lost that day.
Reed’s unborn son would be 3 today had he lived, Whelchel told jurors, likely getting ready to go trick or treating with his cousins.
McCuin would have been 13 and in the seventh grade, his life still wide open before him. Instead, the 10-year-old boy was chased down by Wells and executed inside the house after first witnessing his sister being shot, Whelchel told jurors.
Wells’ defense attorneys, Bill Ray and Steve Gordon, did not give an opening statement Monday.
In an emotional day of testimony, jurors heard from those who heard or witnessed Chanice Reed and Wells arguing moments before the triple shooting occurred.
They also heard Annette Reed’s own voice as she called 911, asking for assistance at the home in the 2900 block of Pate Drive, in a chaotic call drowned out by screams and the shouts of “No!” and “Stop!” in the background.
Annette Reed later updates the call taker that “He’s going to his truck” followed by more screams of “No!” before the call abruptly ends.
Joylene Parsons, Annette Reed’s aunt, testified that she had also heard shouting in the background when her clearly troubled niece called, asking her to come over and explaining that Chanice Reed and her boyfriend were arguing.
Esqual Martinez said he was working two houses down, patching up a driveway, when he saw and heard a man and woman arguing in the nearby front yard.
He said it sounded as if the man wanted the woman to come with him, but she kept yelling no and telling the man to go.
Martinez said the man walked to the driver’s side of a Tahoe parked on the street in front of the home.
“At first I thought he was leaving but he came back with a gun in his hand,” Martinez testified.
Martinez said he watched as the man shot the woman he had been arguing with multiple times.
He said he then saw the man approach an older woman with the gun. He said the older woman was trying to bat the gun away but the man kept repositioning it toward her until shooting her too.
Scared, Martinez said he grabbed a shovel and hid in a corner of the house he was working at for fear that the gunman might come after him next.
“I heard some more shots,” Martinez testified. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
‘Just pray for her’
Before emergency crews could arrive, another of Annette Reed’s sons arrived at the home after his own worrisome conversation with his mother.
Kenneth Speed, 21, testified that he had called his mother to seek permission to go swimming but heard his sister, Chanice Reed, arguing with Wells loudly in the background. He said he and other relatives and friends rushed to his home after hearing his mother curse at Wells and the call ending.
He said they arrived to see the home’s front door and screen door open and a neighbor standing in the yard.
“I opened the door and said, ‘What’s going on?’” Speed recalled. “He said, ‘Someone got shot.’ ”
Speed testified that he looked to the left and saw his mother on the ground.
“I ran up. She was choking on her own blood,” Speed testified. “I looked to the left and I saw my sister in the doorway with a hole in the head.”
After seeing bullet holes inside the home’s walls, Speed said he headed down toward the hall to find his little brother.
“I looked down the hallway. He was on the ground,” Speed testified. “I rolled him over. He had three bullets in his chest.”
By the time Parsons arrived at her niece’s home, police cars had already packed the street and she was prevented from going close to the house, she testified.
Parsons said she remembered a female officer approaching her, calling her by name and wrapping her in an embrace.
“She grabbed me and held me and she told me what happened,” Parsons recalled. “I think I fainted.”
She said the officer told her that Chanice, her baby and “little Eddie” were already gone but that Annette Reed “is fighting for her life.”
“She said, ‘We don’t think she’s going to make it but just pray for her,’ ” Parsons testified.
‘A lot of rage’
Defense attorneys declined to discuss their defense Monday during a courtroom break.
But while questioning Fort Worth police Sgt. Scott Sikes, whose bodycam video was shown to jurors Monday, Ray questioned the sergeant about whether the scene — particularly the shooting of the 10-year-old boy — was indicative that the shooter was filled with “a lot of rage.”
“It looked like someone that was very upset,” Sikes said. “I’m not sure what the situation was.”
Rousseau countered by asking Sikes about a live round, about which he had earlier testified, that was found among the shell casings inside the house, indicative that the gun used had “stove-topped” or jammed with a round that was not fully ejected, requiring that the gun be cleared before it could be fired again.
Rousseau asked Sikes if the live round indicated that the shooter was calm, cool and collected enough to clear the jammed handgun — to which Sikes agreed.
Testimony will continue Tuesday in the 432nd District Court before State District Judge Ruben Gonzalez.