Murder trial begins in Elbert County Superior Court
Sherman Allen (far right), 36, helped his attorneys earlier this week in the jury selection phase of his murder trial in Elbert County Superior Court. Shown with Allen (left) is Atlanta criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey and Athens defense attorney Jim Smith. The trial began Thursday with opening statements. Northern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Jeff Malcom said last week that two weeks had been set aside for the murder trial, in which Allen is accused of beating and kicking his cousin, Treston G. Smith, to death in the parking lot of Pyramid Petro on the Athens Highway.
Using footage pieced together from three video recordings of a 4-minute, 12-second fight that led to the death of 32-year-old Treston G. Smith, Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White made a simple opening statement in the murder trial of Smith’s cousin, Sherman Allen.
Allen, 36, is undergoing trial in Elbert County Superior Court for malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.
In the simple, direct statement that opened the trial, White told an Elbert County jury composed of eight women and four men that there is “no question” how Smith died in the early morning hours of March 16, 2017.
Video taken from a security camera located at Pyramid Petro on Athens Highway, video taken from a security camera at a granite shed located behind Pyramid Petro and video made by Pyramid Petro’s owner shot just before 4 a.m. on a cellular phone allowed White to walk through his version of the deadly fight. White said Allen beat and kicked (with steel-toed boots) Smith to death. In the cell phone video shown to the jury, the store owner yelled to Allen as Allen was getting in his car to leave, “What’s happened?”
After Allen drove away, the store owner walked over to where Smith was lying in the dirt and graveled parking lot and took a video of the scene, where White said Smith’s hands and face were “covered in blood.” That video was shown to the jury in a hushed courtroom.
Defense Attorney Jim Smith of Athens told the jury that the “disturbing, serious case” came about because Allen was “compassionate about his family” and that Allen’s heart was broken because his cousin was having an affair with Tia Allen, the mother of two of Sherman Allen’s children.
“Treston was interfering in his life,” said Attorney Smith
Attorney Smith said that Sherman clocked out at his job at Pilgrim’s Pride and went to the Huddle House and ordered food. Leaving Huddle House, Attorney Smith said Sherman was going to take the food home but that he decided to “ride around” to clear his head.
“He had anger and turmoil in his life,” Attorney Smith told the jury.
When Sherman got to Pyramid Petro, Attorney Smith said he turned his car around there and that Sherman “saw what must have taken his heart out and put it on the floorboard.”
Tia Allen was sitting in her car with Treston Smith in the front passenger seat. Attorney Smith said Sherman beat on the window on the driver’s side of the car, but Tia Allen drove away.
Sherman then chased Treston Smith toward a truck, where Attorney Smith said Triston Smith had a gun.
“Treston turned and hit Sherman and a fight was on,” said Attorney Smith. Attorney Smith told the jury that although District Attorney White didn’t show them, there is video evidence that the jury “will see” that shows both men were fighting and both men fell down in a “rocky place.”
Attorney Smith said after both men fell, Sherman started to walk away, but Treston Smith grabbed Sherman’s leg and held him and then stabbed Sherman in the thigh with a pocket knife.
“You will see Treston stab him on video,” Attorney Smith told the jury.
Later in the morning, Attorney Smith said Sherman found out Treston Smith was deceased “and he couldn’t believe it.”
After calling his friend Elton McIntosh and talking with his friend and his friend’s father, the three men prayed because “they didn’t know what to do,” according to Attorney Smith.
In the end, Attorney Smith said Sherman gathered up his clothes and the boots he was wearing and turned himself in to authorities and showed the authorities where to find the pocket knife.
“This was self-defense,” Attorney Smith told the jury. “Passion was growing inside Sherman because this man was breaking up his family.”
Attorney Smith, who has represented Sherman Allen for about two years in the case, has maintained that his client should not be facing murder charges.
In a bond hearing in April of 2017, Smith argued that his client is, at the very worst, guilty of manslaughter.
“I’m not saying he is guilty (of manslaughter),” Smith said in the hearing. “I’m saying this is manslaughter at the worst.”
Presiding Superior Court Judge Jeff Malcom said last week that two weeks had been set aside for the murder trial.
After two days a jury was seated on Wednesday and the trial began with opening statements on Thursday morning.
In addition to Attorney Smith, the defense team also includes Atlanta criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey, who did most of the defense line of questioning of potential jurors.