A Spokane County jury listened to grim opening-day testimony Wednesday in the trial of Dwayne Woods, charged with killing two women and assaulting a third last April with an aluminum baseball bat.
The state’s first witness, Sherry Shaver, struggled through a tearful retelling of how she arrived, on April 27, at a Valley trailer and found her two daughters inside, covered in blood, barely alive.
Before walking into the trailer that morning, Shaver said she spotted Woods leaving through another door.
“I looked him in the eyes,” she said, pointing at Woods.
Wearing a dark shirt and necktie, Woods took notes on a pad. He’s charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the killings of 22-year-old Telisha Shaver and 18-year-old Jade Moore. If convicted, he faces a possible death sentence.
Defense attorneys said Woods is “a scared kid” who did not commit the murders and was not at the trailer the day the women were killed.
They promised to produce a witness who’ll say he was inside a downtown tavern with Woods when Shaver claims to have seen him leaving the trailer.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Richard Fasy said expected testimony by two prosecution witnesses who say they saw Woods near the trailer at the time of the murders may have been “contaminated” by heavy coverage of the crimes.
Photos of Woods were aired on TV and published in The Spokesman-Review before his arrest. That publicity may have influenced the witnesses to wrongly identify another man as Woods, Fasy said.
Woods, 27, is also charged with the attempted murder of Telisha’s younger sister, Venus Shaver, 20. She was found inside the trailer with head bruises and stab wounds.
She is expected to be one of the trial’s key witnesses. Prosecutors say she will testify either Friday or Monday in a trial that will last about two weeks.
In his opening statement, Spokane County Prosecutor Jim Sweetser said the killings stemmed from “rage, rape and robbery.” He offered the jury this account of what happened:
Venus Shaver had known Woods and had dated him in early 1996. She and Moore were house-sitting the trailer home of Shaver’s aunt near Sprague Avenue in the Valley.
The two tried but failed to contact Woods by calling his pager number, possibly to purchase drugs.
After 3 a.m., Woods called them back and arranged for Shaver to drive him to the trailer.
Prosecutors say Shaver and Moore went to bed, but Woods stayed in the kitchen, supposedly to call a cab.
When Venus returned to the kitchen minutes later, he tried to rape her, Sweetser said.
Shaver resisted by hitting Woods in the head with her hand, but Woods struck back, slamming her against a closet door. She was then taken to a bedroom, where Woods clubbed her across the head with an aluminum bat.
According to Sweetser, Woods then went to Moore, demanding she have sex with him. When she resisted, he took her to see what had happened to Venus Shaver, Sweetser said. Then he raped Moore.
Just before 9:30 a.m., Venus’ older sister, Telisha, arrived at the trailer and found Woods inside, the prosecutor said.
Sweetser said Woods forced her into the room where Venus was, tied her hands behind her back, then hit her in the head with the bat.
Woods then forced Moore to take a knife into the bedroom and and demanded she cut Telisha Shaver’s throat. When she refused, he hit her with the bat, Sweetser said.
Moore and Telisha Shaver died the next day at a Spokane hospital. Woods was arrested that day when police spotted him riding in a friend’s car.
Defense attorney Fasy told jurors that police gave Sherry Shaver a photo lineup of suspects the day of the attack.
“The person she identified, it’s important to say, was not the defendant,” Fasy said.
During her testimony, Shaver said she came to the trailer that morning “because somehow I felt something wasn’t right.”
She testified that she arrived at the trailer around 10:15 a.m., saw a man running from the opposite exit, went around to follow him, then came back when she saw no one.
After medics took the victims to a hospital, she was shown the photo lineup and asked to identify the man she saw at the trailer.
“I just picked the one that had short hair and was clean shaven,” she said.
The man in that photo wasn’t Woods, but at that time, Shaver said, “I wanted to die. I didn’t want to be there.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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