by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - For the first time in seven years, a Gwinnett County jury will decide if a person on trial should get the death penalty.
The trial of Richard Ringold started on Friday. Ringold is accused of shooting four people to death, including an 11-year-old girl, in 2009.
District Attorney Danny Porter called three weeks of jury selection “grueling and arduous,” but once the jury was seated both sides quickly moved through opening statements into some very powerful testimony.
Channel 2 Gwinnett bureau chief Kerry Kavanaugh sat in the courtroom as that testimony began.
“They discovered a blood bath. They discovered four people dead,” Porter told jurors as he described the crime scene at a Lawrenceville home in August 2009.
Investigators believe Ringold went on a rampage, shooting and killing his girlfriend Antonia Butler and her 11-year-old daughter Jhane Thomas, and two other adults inside the home, including one who was disabled. Two others allegedly shot by Ringold survived.
Police found Butler's 4-year-old daughter hiding upstairs. She had been shot by Ringold twice, Porter said.
"She told EMTs, ‘Rich shot my Mommy. Rich shot my Mommy in the nose. My whole family is dead,’" Porter said.
Another woman, Gifty Kargbo, managed to escape the gunfire while running out of the home.
Prosecutors said she ran to a neighbor’s home and made a desperate call to 911, which they played in the courtroom.
"He shot her in the back of the head,” Kargbo testified as she recounted how the shootings began.
In her opening statement, defense attorney Gladys Pollard tried to poke holes in the state’s evidence and questioned the credibility of the evidence.
Police said they recovered 9 mm bullets from all the victims, a point of contention for Pollard.
"There is no 9 mm gun. None was found in the possession of Mr. Ringold. None was found anywhere,” Pollard said. "You will be able to tell who is telling the truth, who is not. Distinguish fact from fiction."
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