His Facebook posts and his best friend helped a jury convict aspiring rapper Deandre DeShaun-Antonio Ball of first degree murder.
Assistant district attorneys Mitch Owen and Crosby Parker relied on circumstantial evidence to win the conviction Tuesday night at the end of a two-day trial in Circuit Court. Ball, 22, will serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Nobody saw who shot 20-year-old Trevues “Turtle” Martin in the driveway of his grandmother’s Gulfport home on Sept. 13, 2016, the day before his 21st birthday. Prosecutors also were without a murder weapon. But they sealed their case with circumstantial evidence.
Evidence collected by former Gulfport police detective Jennifer Crump, now a department patrol sergeant, included a Facebook post Ball made two days before the murder. It included a photo with a .40-caliber Glock and the words: “My pride too high. I catch you dry. I’m just gone fire yo a - - up.”
Prosecutors said Ball was saying in street slang that he was going to catch Martin without a gun (dry) and shoot him.
One of five bullets fired from the same type Glock hit Martin in the head, killing him almost instantly. Ball disappeared for about a month after the murders and the weapon was never found.
The two men were friends. Both liked to rap. Both grew up in Villa Del Ray. Ball was angry, his best friend Kalisha Crockett told investigators, because he thought his longtime girlfriend, the woman he wanted to marry, was having a sexual relationship with Martin.
Crockett, who lived across the street from Martin’s grandmother, was with Ball and two of his friends the night of the murder. She was driving them around in her father’s truck. She identified Ball and the two friends for police.
Earlier, the same day of the murder, the three men made a Facebook Live video in which Ball referred repeatedly to being “strapped,” Crump testified, meaning he was carrying a gun. Crump found the video, but said it was deleted before she could copy it. Ball had also posted a picture on Facebook in July 2016 with the Glock.
Crockett, 20, was a reluctant witness at trial. She faces up to 15 years in prison in the case on a charge of hindering prosecution.
Crockett and the other two men in the truck testified that Ball got out to go buy some marijuana. Martin was selling the drug while parked with a girlfriend in his grandmother’s driveway, testimony indicated.
They all heard gunshots, then Ball came running back to the truck and they left Villa Del Ray. The other two men in the truck, who both have criminal records, voluntarily gave the police statements and testified at trial.
Ball’s attorney, Michael Hester, tried to convince the jury that someone else shot Martin. Hester said one of the marijuana buyers could have fired the gun and pointed out there are “thousands of Glocks” in Gulfport.
“I believe there’s a lot of reasonable doubt here,” Hester said. “I’m asking, ‘Where’s the proof?’ ”
Under the law, prosecutors pointed out, circumstantial and direct evidence carry the same weight.
Prosecutor Parker said Martin’s murder was an ambush, carried out by Ball.
“He chooses the time, the place and the witnesses,” Parker told the jury. “He doesn’t get to choose what you consider.”
Both Ball and Martin had more than a dozen supporters, many of them family, in court.
Martin’s mother, Tatasha Martin, said after the case went to the jury that she spent her son’s 21st birthday at the morgue making funeral arrangements. Her own birthday was a day later, but she does not remember it at all.
Her son had gotten out of jail 20 days earlier after serving time on a crack cocaine charge, she said. He planned to give up marijuana on his birthday and wanted to straighten out his life, his mother and others said.
“Turtle was a peaceful person,” she said. “He was humble. He was trying to find a job.”