Aug. 22–GEORGETOWN — 12:30 p.m. update: The capital murder trial of Da Ryan Simms, who is accused in the shooting death of 33-year-old Round Rock resident Jerrod Stanford in 2014, began Tuesday. He faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutor Dee McWilliams started his opening statements by saying the entire story of what happened was a mess. “The tragedy starts, as many of them do, with drug addiction,” he said. He said it also involved prostitution, guns and violence.
During his opening statement, defense attorney Jon Evans said he expected the evidence to show something different.
“They are not going to be able to prove that day that Simms took part in the murder of Jerrod Stanford,” Evans said.
Stanford was an oilfield consultant and a “hard-working good old boy from the Texas Panhandle,” said McWilliams. He used methamphetamine when he was not working and occasionally contacted prostitutes, McWilliams said. Stanford contacted a prostitute named Lindsey Hanks through the Back Page website in early September, he said.
He said Hanks will be testifying during Simms’ trial. She came to Stanford’s Round Rock house where she spent most of Sept. 4, 2014, with him and they shot meth together, the prosecutor said.
After she left early on the morning of Sept. 5, Stanford texted her asking her to come back and offering her a shot of meth, McWilliams said. At that time, Hanks was hanging around with Simms, Kendall Ellis and Jerrion Barr, the prosecutor said.
When Hanks returned to Stanford’s house, Simms and Ellis came with her, said McWilliams. Hanks first went inside Stanford’s house alone and got a shot of meth from him before making an excuse and going back outside, McWilliams said.
Simms, Ellis and Hanks then came back into Stanford’s house, the prosecutor said. Simms and Ellis confronted Stanford outside his living room asking for money and guns, said the prosecutor. But Stanford ran away and Simms shot him, McWilliams said. The shot hit Stanford in the buttocks, the prosecutor said.
Simms and Ellis chased Stanford to the bathroom, where they got on top of him and Simms shot him in the heart, McWilliams said.
“He killed him dead on the floor of his bathroom,” the prosecutor said.
Simms also threatened to kill Hanks, said McWilliams. Some of Stanford’s guns, as well as his wallet and credit card, were taken, the prosecutor said. Simms returned a few days later and took some more items from Stanford, said McWilliams.
Evans, the defense attorney, said there was not enough corroborating evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that what Hanks said was true. “I expect you (the jury) will hear untruths and things that cannot be backed up,” he said.
McWilliams said that when Simms was arrested a few days later in a different incident, he had a .40 caliber pistol that belonged to Stanford and a box of Remington .380 rounds with him. He said the rounds matched the bullet casings found around Stanford’s body.
Ellis used one of Stanford’s credit cards at a convenience store, McWilliams said. Barr pawned one of Stanford’s rifles, said the prosecutor.
“Every single piece of physical evidence in this case corroborates Hanks’ story,” McWilliams said.
Earlier: The capital murder trial of Da Ryan Simms, who is accused in the shooting death of 33-year-old Round Rock resident Jerrod Stanford in 2014, begins Tuesday. He faces up to 99 years in prison.
Investigators believe Stanford was killed Sept. 5, 2014, at his Round Rock home. Police did not find out about his death until 11 days later, when a detective was interviewing a Travis County Jail inmate who said a woman had told him that her brother had killed a man at a house on Chandler Crossing Trail.
Police found Stanford’s body at the house and also a fingerprint near Stanford’s body that was later identified as Simms’, the affidavit said.
Simms also had one of Stanford’s stolen firearms, as well as a box of .380 ammunition that matched the bullets used in the killing, according to an arrest affidavit. Simms initially told a detective that when he saw Stanford, the victim was already dead, the affidavit said.
But a Williamson County Jail inmate later told investigators that Simms talked about entering Stanford’s house with his brother after a woman named Lindsey Hanks went in and hit Stanford on the side of his head, an affidavit said. Simms said they “had to shoot the guy because he started fighting,” it said.
Hanks and a man named Kendall Shi-Twan Ellis also were initially charged in the killing of Stanford. The capital murder charge against Hanks was later dropped. She pleaded guilty in December to aggravated robbery in connection with the killing of Stanford in exchange for testifying in the trials of Simms and Ellis.
RELATED: Plea deal: Woman to testify against others in 2014 murder
Stanford, a Texas State University graduate, was an operating consultant for an oil company, one of his friends, Suzanne Manbeck, has previously said. He was an avid gun collector who stored his guns in a safe because he wanted his house to be safe when his daughter visited, Manbeck said.
His goal in life was to be a substance abuse counselor after his contract with the oil company ended, she said.
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