published Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Victim's aunt tried to keep girl out of fight

  • photo
    Temekia Reed is escorted into Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom Tuesday. Reed is on trial for the stabbing death of 15 year-old Shaviya Vinson.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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Lanita "Pumkin" Wells testified matter-of-factly Wednesday that she and her nieces were in College Hill Courts on Dec. 19, 2011, to buy marijuana.

Wells, 38, took the stand on the second day of Temekia Reed's murder trial in the death of 15-year-old Shaviya Vinson.

Wells said she, Anissa "Poo-Pooh" Wells, Rene Cross and Vinson had walked to the neighborhood from their nearby apartment complex.

The group split up for a few minutes. Lanita and Anissa Wells went into a friend's house, while Vinson and Cross walked up the street to see a relative.

Lanita Wells testified that Anissa Wells ran out of the house, saying someone was trying to beat up Cross. Lanita Wells said she stood next to Vinson as the fight ensued. Wells said she pulled Vinson back and told her to stay beside her, out of the fight.

Cross and Natalia Reed were fighting, and more than a dozen people had crowded around in the dark, Wells said. Multiple witnesses later said the fight was over $20 Natalia Reed said Cross owed her for baby-sitting.

In the flurry of blows, Lanita Wells was distracted from watching Vinson and entered the mob to pull Anissa Wells out of the fight.

Moments later Lanita Wells saw blood squirting out of Vinson's body.

"I turned around and all I seen was my niece falling," Lanita Wells said on the witness stand, her voice cracking. "I kept talking to her. I said, 'As long as you keep talking to me I know you're still here.'"

She said the teen raised her head and then lowered it, and she saw white spittle come out of her mouth. Vinson died on the way to the hospital.

Temekia Reed's older brother, Anthony Sutton Jr., 29, testified that, along with his cousin Lanita Wells, he helped break up one of the fights happening in the street near the intersection of Poplar and West 13th streets.

He said that seconds after the last of multiple fights ended he saw Vinson collapse and heard her say, "Somebody stuck me with something."

Sutton testified that Temekia Reed, 25, already had left the fight before someone stabbed Vinson.

Prosecutors claim Reed plunged a pair of purple-handled scissors between Vinson's ribst. Reed's sister, Derrecka Witcher, and her mother, Natalia Reed, both were involved in the fight.

Both women told police that Temekia Reed stabbed Vinson.

But Natalia Reed recanted her statement during the 2012 preliminary hearing. Witcher testified Tuesday police had threatened her with prison time if she didn't tell them who killed Vinson.

Both sides completed their closing arguments and the jury will resume deliberations today.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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