A jury found Parry Gully not guilty of the first-degree murder of Charles Harper in 2014.
During that trial, jurors got to see a picture taken of a suspect just moments after a hail of bullets penetrated Harper’s chest, killing him.
Prosecutors said the man holding bolt cutters in the picture was Parry Gully, of East St. Louis, who is on trial for first-degree murder. The photo was taken on the phone of Gully’s co-defendant, Melvin Smith.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Sallerson during his closing argument Wednesday afternoon.
The picture shows a man with dreadlocks holding a pair of bolt cutters near the murder scene.
The pictures on Smith’s phone were taken just minutes before and after two men cut the lock on the kitchen door at the home at 805 N. 79th St. in East St. Louis on June 17, 2014. The suspects wanted to steal drugs and money, according to prosecutors. The victim, Harper, fired a single shot, striking Smith, before the guns were turned on him. Harper was struck in the chest eight times by two different weapons.
About 10 minutes after the shooting, a bleeding Smith arrived at Touchette Regional Hospital. Surveillance video from the hospital showed a man prosecutors say is Gully driving up to the hospital to deliver Smith.
Cathy MacElroy, Gully’s attorney, told jurors that the man in those pictures was not Gully.
MacElroy then told jurors a different version of events. In her closing words to jurors, MacElroy said East St. Louis Police Officer Sylvester Woodhouse lied to them when he testified that he never searched Gully’s 1994 Infiniti found parked blocks away from the murder scene days after the shooting.
During Woodhouse’s testimony Tuesday, he was adamant that he hadn’t searched Gully’s car, where the front seat was soaked with blood. But MacElroy questioned why he ran license plate numbers — plates that were later located in the trunk of Gully’s car. Woodhouse called prosecutors later and told them he forgot about the search.
“This is how police officers perjure themselves,” MacElroy told jurors. “They tell a story that they think can’t be proven otherwise.”
MacElroy alluded that Woodhouse could have planted Smith’s blood while he was in the car.
And none of the witness, three who were in the house at the time of Harper’s murder, or the witnesses who saw two men running away from the house after hearing gunshots, identified Gully in photo lineups.
“They don’t connect it to Parry at all,” MacElroy argued.
Murder charges weren’t issued in the case until a year later. Gully was attending college in Texas when he was arrested in 2015.
Smith is scheduled to go on trial later this month.