WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Closing arguments are set to get underway on Tuesday morning, August 15, 2023, in capital murder trial for the first of four defendants accused of fatally shooting a beloved Wichita Falls dance teacher in 2020.
Zaeveion Denson, 21, of Wichita Falls, is charged with engaging in organized crime capital murder for his alleged role in the death of Carolyn High, 65, of Wichita Falls, after she was found deceased in the driveway of a residence on Cumberland Avenue in January 2020.
In a capital murder trial that has seen multiple delays, the second day of testimony was expected to get underway on Friday, August 11, but a severe thunderstorm on Thursday night left the Wichita County Courthouse without electricity on Friday, causing proceedings to be delayed once again.
On Monday, August 14, 2023, the second day of testimony began in the 78th District Court, with Judge Meredith Kennedy presiding.
DPS ballistics expert testifies
The prosecution, lead by Dobie Kosub, First Assistant District Attorney of Wichita County, called several witnesses to the stand, including James Jeffries, a ballistics expert with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
After presenting the alleged murder weapon to the jury of 11 women and 1 man, Jeffries testified to the numerous safety features of the .45 caliber handgun.
Jeffries also testified that he was able to match a bullet casing found at the scene where 65-year-old Carolyn High’s body was discovered on Cumberland Avenue to the weapon believed to have fired the fatal shot.
Another of Denson’s co-defendants takes the stand
On Monday afternoon, Kosub called another of Denson’s co-defendants, Shane Diaz, to the stand. Diaz is the second of Denson’s co-defendants to testify in this trial, the first being Shaundre Ransom, who took the stand on Thursday, August 10, 2023.
Before testimony got underway in this trial, the prosecution filed notice that depending on their truthfulness in testifying, consideration will be given concerning eligibility for parole and sentencing when their cases come up.
While on the stand, Diaz recalled the events of January 26, 2020, the day Carolyn High was fatally shot in the early morning hours. Diaz testified that he didn’t know who fired the fatal shot.
On Thursday, Ransom’s testimony pointed the trigger finger at Denson, saying under oath that Denson shot High after she refused to give them her purse when they demanded it. After High was shot, the robbers took the purse and fled the scene.
Prosecutors said the robbers threw the purse into a dumpster and then went to an apartment at Sun Valley Apartments. High’s purse was later found in the possession of a man who apparently found it, and then tried to burn it.
Prosecutors told jurors on Thursday the four defendants wanted money to buy marijuana. A friend of High also testified High had been at Texas Nite Life that night dancing. High’s body was found later that morning in her driveway by her daughter.
Closing arguments begin Tuesday morning
After the prosecution rested their case on Monday afternoon, counsel for the defense did the same without calling any witnesses to take the stand on Denson’s behalf.
With both the prosecution and the defense resting their cases after two days of testimony, closing arguments will get underway on Tuesday, August 15, 2023.
The State will have the opportunity to have to present their closing statements first, followed by the defense. At that point, prosecutors will be given one more opportunity to present their arguments in this case.
Judge Kennedy will then read the charge to the jury, who will begin their deliberation and reach a verdict.
If convicted, Denson faces an automatic life sentence. Since he was under the age of 18 when the alleged crime was committed, he will be eligible for parole after serving 40 years of that sentence.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.