COLUMBUS, Ga — The trial for three suspects accused of murdering a man at Peachtree Mall now enters it’s second week.
Nineteen-year-old Xzavien Jones, 24-year-old Tekoa Young and 26-year-old Terrell McFarland stand accused in last year’s shooting on Easter weekend that left Anthony Meredith dead. Jones is accused shooting Meredith in the mall’s food court.
Last week, the prosecution tried to tie the three to local criminal gangs. Today, the state called in an expert witness to testify on criminal gangs, gang activity and gang culture. Ray Ham is a gang analyst who has worked for decades reviewing and investigating criminal gangs.
Ham currently works for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. He previously worked for the LaGrange police department and as a youth pastor.
Ham describes what constitutes a gang, gang activity and gang culture. He says gangs have exploded in the past decade due to social media.
He believes crime, gangs, and drugs go together, because gangs are a money making business.
According to Ham, people must earn their way into gangs by “putting in work.” This could mean robbing someone, pushing drugs, or in some cases, committing murder. This is all to gain respect and up one’s value in a gang.
Defense attorneys still have yet to cross-examine Investigator Ham.
News 3’s Joe Ripley is in the courtroom and says a medical examiner could also take the stand today.