LISBON — The 6-year-old son of Destiny Moody testified his daddy shot his mommy on Thursday in the Common Pleas court trial of Terrance Haywood, accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Moody two years ago in 2019.
Haywood, 28, Chester Avenue, Wellsville, is charged with murder, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability. The charges include a firearms specification, that can add time to the sentence. The unclassified felony murder charge carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life.
JaVonte Moody, who called Haywood his dad, although not his actual father, testified that after the shooting the cops took him and his siblings away. Moody and his siblings went to live with his grandmother.
When questioned by defense attorney Dennis McNamara, the boy said he did not know what was going on. He heard a shot. He went outside and police put him in a police car.
He also testified the woman who was watching him was watching TV and they stayed up all night.
JaVonte’s uncle, Dustin Emler, testified no one in the family talked about what had happened in front of the children. After the death of his sister, Emler said he was spending lots of time with his nephews and niece, watching them whenever he was not working during the overnights. A few months after the murder, JaVonte expressed being frustrated that no one believes him and that was when he told Emler “his daddy shot his mommy.”
JaVonte followed that up within a week or so by making a drawing that Emler said appeared to be stick figures with one lying down with a pool around it.
Courtney Wilson, a forensic social worker with Akron Children’s Hospital at the Child Advocacy Center, said she interviewed JaVonte Moody in July and August of 2020. Wilson testified the boy told her he heard his mom and dad arguing outside and his dad shot his mom. He also said he saw a gun.
During the second interview, Wilson said JaVonte not only told her he missed his mom as he did in the first interview, but also that he missed his dad. He also went over photos with Wilson naming the people in them, including his grandmother, brothers, sister and pap. He also saw a photo of a little girl and another of the girl’s mom, but he could not remember their names. Those were photos of Citasia Tisdale, who watched him the night of the murder, and of her daughter who was there sleeping that night.
He also called the man in the photo of Haywood, Tay, which was his name for his dad. Additionally, he talked about another man, he identified as “mom’s friend” the one watching JaVonte play Xbox that night.
McNamara questioned other things Javonte told Wilson, such as that his mother was stabbed by his father with a chainsaw. Wilson said children say lots of things and spoke to her about the a ninja, a chainsaw and Xbox and other things during that interview. McNamara also challenged the child’s recollection that he and his mom went and bought candy after she got off work. Yet McNamara pointed out Destiny Moody got off at midnight and the nearby convenience store, Kwik King, closed at 10 p.m.
Wilson said she included the things that seemed the most factual information in her report and she was unaware what time the mother got off work or what time the store closed.
When McNamara asked Wilson if the people at the Child Advocacy Center are not just an arm of law enforcement, Wilson denied it and said the CAC medically examines the child and looks for signs of harm physically and emotionally of a child who may have gone through a traumatic experience.
“He was potentially exposed to child trauma and extreme domestic violence,” Wilson said.
There were more instances of violence testified about throughout the day on Thursday.
Rose Barnes, a friend of Destiny Moody, testified the relationship between Haywood and Moody was hot and cold. She felt like Moody did not want her to know too much about him to protect her.
She relayed to jurors about a night they went out on Sept. 22, 2019, a month before the murder, to the Saddle Ridge bar in Chester, W.Va. She said they were dancing when Moody grabbed her wrist, while Haywood was pulling her outside and she went out with them. Barnes said Moody and Haywood were arguing and she was pointing her hand in his face, when Haywood hit her and Moody swung back at him. After he hit her again, Barnes told Haywood she was not going to let him hit her and he turned and struck her. At some point, Moody collapsed to the ground by the vehicle.
According to Barnes, Haywood picked her up and put her in the car. Later Barnes said Moody downplayed what had happened.
McNamara questioned if Barnes was intoxicated at the time, which she denied. However, he pointed out in her statement to Wellsville Lt. Marsha Eisenhart, Barnes had said she had been drinking. McNamara questioned why she would lie to police and say she had been drinking when she was not.
Rachel Lawson, a cousin of Moody also testified that while she and Moody’s relationship cooled in the couple months before she died, she still saw her a lot because she watched Moody’s children. However, a few weeks before Moody’s death she said Moody stopped her on the stairs and said if anything ever happened to her it was Terrance Haywood.
During her testimony, Lawson broke down in tears once and glared in the direction of Haywood throughout much of her testimony, prompting McNamara at one point to ask Judge Scott Washam to instruct the witness to stop glaring at the defense table.
“If you had the ability to speak bad of Mr. Haywood would you do it just because of your animosity,” McNamara asked Lawson.
“No I wouldn’t do it just out of anger,” she replied.
Another friend of Moody’s, Kaelynn Duncan testified about things Moody had posted to Facebook in the hours before her death, including a statement that said “Just to clear the air. I’m single!” Additionally, there was a viral video of another woman ranting about how much better off she was after leaving the man in her life.
At 1:33 a.m., Oct. 22, Moody made her last post, which said “Gotta be careful who you (expletive) with – people will learn you just to hurt you.”
Duncan said she and Moody were also messaging back and forth privately on Facebook Messenger and the last message was at 1:38 a.m., about going to a bar for an upcoming Halloween party. Moody reportedly had to work the night of the party and asked Duncan to go to the party late so she could go too.
Duncan said she sent Moody a video message at 3:28 a.m., but Moody never opened it.
Duncan also testified about violence in Moody’s relationship with Haywood, stating one night Moody’s daughter was staying with Duncan overnight. An upset Moody called Duncan and asked her not to bring her daughter back home and to take her to her cousin, Rachel Lawson’s instead.
“She said he just hit her with an HDMI cord and tried to strangle her,” Duncan testified.
Investigators and the medical examiner also testified on the Thursday, the fourth-day of the trial.
Dr. Erica Armstrong, a forensic pathologist at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office, took the jury through the autopsy. She showed them a photo of Moody’s face, where there was a bullet wound above her right eye. Armstrong continued that the bullet traveled through the right side of Moody’s brain to the back of her head, where she recovered it.
Although Armstrong did not believe the gunshot would have killed Moody instantly, she said it would have incapacitated her and should would have died within minutes of the shooting.
Hallie Dreyer, who specializes in Y-DNA for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified she checked swabs of the murder weapon. She was looking to separate out male DNA, which has the Y chromosome. Dreyer said there was male DNA on the murder weapon and other items found in the alley. However, that DNA either was not sufficient, without enough found to compare it to known sources or it contained DNA from multiple sources. She noted that is not unusual when it comes to guns for them to be passed around.
The final person to testify on Thursday was Eisenhart, who has 30 years of experience with the Wellsville police department and led the investigation. She detailed for jurors step by step how that investigation was conducted, starting with the time the police department was notified a body had been found.
Eisenhart testified how the murder scene was processed, photos she had taken, how many interviews were conducted and how the gun was located in the alley.
She also went through the hours of video footage from various surveillance cameras that she said showed the activities of Haywood and others that night. Minute by minute, she and Special Prosecutor Micah Ault played video for the jury showing vehicles going up and down Main Street both to Moody’s home and the home of Desiree Browning. There was footage of people getting in and out of the Acadia Haywood was driving and when two men got out of the Acadia at Moody’s and later walked down the street leaving Haywood at Moody’s house that night. One of them she identified as Julius Holland, also known as Ju. The other Eisenhart said she could not identify.
Footage from Cindy Mick’s backyard included sound and a single gunshot can be heard fired at 2:21 a.m.
The same footage contained what Eisenhart described as the sound of the door being kicked in at Moody’s house at 2:33 a.m. after the murder.
After the time of the murder, footage showed people coming and going from the front and back of Moody’s home, down Maple Alley and Fourth Street nearby, getting in and out of the vehicle and moving the vehicle. Utilizing the footage, Eisenhart set up the timeline of the night.
When asked by McNamara, Eisenhart admitted that she could not actually see well enough on the videos to see who the people are and how many people are in each video.
She did testify that the pants Haywood was wearing on the night of the murder shown in the footage from New Dimensions Bar in East Liverpool were not the same ones he was wearing when police confiscated his clothing when he turned himself in on Oct. 23, he did appear to have on the same hoodie sweatshirt with writing on it.
Other than Moody’s husband, who Eisenhart said was incarcerated in South Carolina, Haywood became the only suspect.
Testimony is expected to continue this morning.