Day One of Testimony in the Ben McDonald Murder Trial

Trial began Tuesday in the case of a Bay County man accused of a 2002 execution style murder.

Ben McDonald is charged with first degree murder of 14-year-old Bay County teenager Desmond Ray in June 2002.

McDonald is also charged with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and conspiracy is definitely the word of the day.

The court acknowledged the existence of conspiracy long before the jurors ever entered the courtroom. This gave a huge advantage to the prosecution who can now call on or submit statements from McDonald’s "co-conspirators." Under normal circumstances, any statements from these other men would be heresy because they didn't actually witness McDonald fire the gun.

Tuesday two other witnesses testified as to the events that led up to the shooting. Twenty-one-year-old Corey Todd told the jury about an exchange between his friend Erick Richardson and that of the victim, Desmond Ray. Ray did fire a bullet into the side of Todd's car the night before his murder.

The other witness, Richardson's ex-girlfriend Stephanie Daniels, described what happened later that night and the next day as Richardson's brother Brayun and friends Mikhal Forbes, Darrin McLellan, and Ben McDonald planned retaliation against Ray.

The defense is stressing that "conspiracy" doesn't guarantee McDonald’s intent to kill or murder Desmond Ray, especially since McDonald only agreed to take Richardson's spot when his then-girlfriend Stephanie, who was pregnant with Richardson's child, begged him to stay home.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled people under the age of 18 who commit murder cannot face the death penalty. This is the first Bay County case affected by that ruling. A six-member jury is hearing the case and not the usual 12-member jury normally seen in first degree murder cases.