An Aiken County jury heard opening statements in the murder trial of David E. Rosier Jr., 45, on Tuesday at the Aiken County Judicial Center.
Donnie James Davis was found dead inside a home at 56 Church St. in Bath on Nov. 10, 2012, after Rosier and his son, Joseph “Josh” Rosier, confronted Davis, authorities have said.
The men reportedly got into an argument over drugs and a woman. There were a number of people at the home when the dispute erupted, and at least one person pulled a knife while another had a handgun, police said. The elder Rosier, who is also charged with possession of a weapon during a violent crime, did not bring the gun to the home, but witnesses told police he did pick up the weapon and shot the victim.
Investigators originally linked the younger Rosier to the shooting death but later determined he was involved in the assault alone and had nothing to do with the homicide.
“He (David Rosier) murdered a 20-year-old unarmed kid (Davis) in cold blood,” Assistant Solicitor Kevin Molony said during the opening arguments on Tuesday. “Evidence will show the defendant and his son, Joshua Rosier, entered the residence together. This Rosier clan is anything but the normal father-son relationship that you're about to hear.”
Molony said the jury will hear about events from the days leading up to the shooting and will also hear from Josh Rosier, David's son, himself.
“We'll tell you exactly what happened in that house – I'm going to warn you, some of it's gruesome,” Molony said. “He'll tell you the steps he and his father, the defendant, took, along with others, to get away from the residence that night; to tell a different story to law enforcement in an attempt to stay away from where he'll be walking out of right now – the Aiken County detention center.”
Public defender Wallis Alves began the defense's opening with an anecdote about encountering a black widow spider while gardening recently.
“You are going to hear testimony that everything that happened on Church Street on the night of Nov. 10, 2012, was set up by the girlfriend of Joshua Rosier,” she told the jury, calling the girlfriend a “black widow.” “You're going to hear testimony how she was the one who told Mr. Joshua Rosier about a problem she had with a person who lived in the house.”
Alves said those testifying for the state have either lied or changed their stories.
“… You are going to hear evidence that every one of the state's witnesses, who are law enforcement or professionals, has told lies,” she said. “Every single one of them have changed their stories. I don't know what the state's evidence is going to show, except that there's going to be a lot of lying going on up there.”
The jury first heard from Deputy Coroner Jeff Smith, who explained the process of receiving a body, taking it for autopsy and toxicology. They then heard from Dr. Janice Ross of Newberry Pathology Associates, who explained what she found during Davis' autopsy.
Ross said she found one bullet in Davis' body that had pierced his heart and aorta, a main artery coming off the heart, causing massive hemorrhaging.
“He probably could have moved around for several seconds up to a minute,” Ross testified, adding that he likely died within two minutes.
Ross also found incised wounds on Davis' face and the back of his right hand, which she considered defensive wounds caused by a sharp instrument.
“They're wounds made when someone is trying to defend himself or herself by putting their arms up against whatever weapon,” she said.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University.