Trial continues for five suspects accused in Hoyt Birge murder

Jury selection begins for five suspects in Hoyt Birge murder.png
Trial begins for five suspects accused in Hoyt Birge murder
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-14 14:39:14-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -The second day of trial has wrapped up for five people, accused of being involved of the death of Hoyt Birge in May 2017.

Page Briggs, Patrick Berrane, David Howard, Stanley West are accused of first-degree murder, kidnapping to inflict bodily harm and armed carjacking.

Vicki Strickland is facing accessory after the fact charges.

Detectives say after shooting Birge in close range, his body was found in the trunk of a car in U-Club apartment complex. 

With Birge's family filling up the front two rows, you could almost feel the emotion in the courtroom as one witness testified about the night Birge was murdered on May 8, 2017.

Jesse Fox admits he was there when it happened. He is charged with accessory after the fact. He was on the stand for nearly three hours Friday morning.

Fox said all four men on trial were wearing bullet proof vests and armed with guns when he arrived at Page Briggs' house that night.

Fox testified that Briggs thought Hoyt Birge was going to rob him and the defendants planned to "teach him a lesson." 

Fox says the plan was to beat up Birge, not to kill him. But when Birge reached for the AK-47 Patrick Berrane had pointed at him, Berrane reacted and shot Birge.

Fox further testified that instead of calling the police, the defendants went into cover-up and clean-up mode.

Detective Justin Woodall also took the stand on Friday. He was the crime scene detective on the case.

During testimony, he said Briggs house smelled overwhelmingly like bleach.

The defense attorneys argue the murder wasn't done intentionally, but rather it happened accidentally because Birge planned to rob Briggs. 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The jury has been selected and sat through the first day of the trial for several suspects accused of helping to kill Hoyt Birge last May. 

Thursday morning started with the state's opening statement, along with three of the defendants' statements.

Patrick Berrane and Stanley West asked to defer their statements until the defense starts their case. 

The state also called a number of witnesses, including Peter Tournay, a close friend of Birge, who went with him to sell drugs to Paige Vowell.

Tournay took the stand and was questioned by the state for an hour before the emotions from that night got the best of him. He stated that he feared for his life that night, and only cooperated with the defendants because he didn't want to die.

His emotions, agitation, and the tension within the room only rose as the defense began their cross examination of him.

Despite all this, Tournay wanted to share his version of what happened the night his friend was shot and killed. 

"I'm here for Hoyt. I'm here for his family, and I'm here for justice to be served," said Tournay. 

As the defense pointed out a number of times, there were many discrepancies between the original police interviews from May of 2017 and Thursday's statements, but Tournay said that it was due to the events from that night and it was hard to relive them. 

There will be several more witnesses called to testify in the coming days, with more evidence being shown to the jury.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - After two days of back and forth, a 12 person jury plus two alternates have been selected in the Hoyt Birge murder trial. 

Birge was shot to death and stuffed in the trunk of a car in May of last year in Tallahassee.

All the male defendants, Howard, Stanley West, Briggs, and Patrick Berrane, are charged with one count first degree murder, one count of armed car robbery, and two counts of armed kidnapping.

Strickland is charged with accessory after the fact.

The state started their opening statement at 9:15 a.m. All defendants except for West seemed stoic as Georgia Cappleman gave the state’s opening statement.

West seemed to be partaking in written communication with his attorney while Hoyt’s mother left the courtroom during the statement. 

Howard’s attorney was first to give the defendant opening statement. There are five defense attorneys in this trial, so each gets to have an opening statement.

The attorneys for West and Berrane have deferred their statements until the defense starts its case.  

We're told this trial could last until next Tuesday, or longer.