A combination of drugs, prostitution, guns and violence led to Da Ryan Terrell Simms shooting 33-year-old Round Rock resident Jerrod Stanford in 2014, prosecutors said Tuesday in the first day of Simms’ capital murder trial.
“The tragedy starts, as many of them do, with drug addiction,” prosecutor Dee McWilliams said in his opening statement. He said Simms shot and killed Stanford during a robbery at Stanford’s house after following a prostitute that Simms knew into the home.
Defense attorney Jon Evans said in his opening statement that he expected the evidence to show something different.
“They are not going to be able to prove that day that Simms took part in the murder of Jerrod Stanford,” Evans said.
Simms, 25, of Austin, faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Stanford was an oilfield consultant and a “hard-working good old boy from the Texas Panhandle,” said McWilliams. He said Stanford used methamphetamine when he was not working and occasionally contacted prostitutes. Stanford contacted a prostitute named Lindsey Hanks through the Backpage website in early September 2014, he said.
He said Hanks will be testifying during Simms’ trial.
She came to Stanford’s Round Rock house and spent most of Sept. 4 with him, and they shot meth together, the prosecutor said.
After she left early on the morning of Sept. 5, Stanford texted her asking her to come back and offered her a shot of meth, McWilliams said. At that time, Hanks was hanging around with Simms, Kendall Ellis and Jerrion Barr, the prosecutor said.
When Hanks returned to Stanford’s home, McWilliams said, Simms and Ellis came with her. Hanks first went inside Stanford’s house alone and got a shot of meth from him before going back outside, McWilliams said.
Simms, Ellis and Hanks then entered Stanford’s house, the prosecutor said. He said Simms and Ellis confronted Stanford outside his living room asking for money and guns, but Stanford ran and Simms shot him, McWilliams said. The shot hit Stanford in the buttocks, the prosecutor said.
Simms and Ellis chased Stanford to the bathroom, where they got on top of him and Simms shot him in the heart, McWilliams said.
“He killed him dead on the floor of his bathroom,” the prosecutor said. He said Simms also threatened to kill Hanks.
Some of Stanford’s guns, as well as his wallet and credit card, were taken, the prosecutor said. Simms returned a few days later and took some more items from Stanford, McWilliams said.
Evans, the defense attorney, said there was not enough corroborating evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that what Hanks said was true.
“I expect you (the jury) will hear untruths and things that cannot be backed up,” he said.
McWilliams said that when Simms was arrested a few days later in a different incident, he had a .40 caliber pistol that belonged to Stanford and a box of Remington .380 rounds with him. He said the rounds matched the bullet casings found around Stanford’s body. Authorities also found Simms’ handprint on the bathroom wall above Stanford’s body, McWilliams said.
Ellis used one of Stanford’s credit cards at a convenience store, and Barr pawned one of Stanford’s rifles, McWilliams said.
“Every single piece of physical evidence in this case corroborates Hanks’ story,” McWilliams said.
Sheriff’s deputies found Stanford’s body in his bathroom on Sept. 16 after authorities received a tip.
During testimony Tuesday, sheriff’s Deputy Scott Dubielak said detectives found a .380 shell casing in the cushions of Stanford’s couch and another in his bathtub, along with bloody footprints on his carpet and in his bathroom.