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DA will seek death penalty for Lakewood Villas murders in Waco earlier this year

DA will seek death penalty for Lakewood Villas murders in Waco earlier this year

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DA will seek death penalty for Lakewood Villas murders in Waco earlier this year

Lakewood Villas murder suspects Albert Love Jr. (left) and Ricky Cummings (right) will be tried together and face the death penalty if convicted of the March murders.

McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said Thursday his office will seek the death penalty against at least two of the five men indicted on capital murder charges in the March shooting deaths of two men at the Lakewood Villas apartment complex.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Ricky Donnell Cummings, 21, and Albert Leslie Love Jr., 24, and will try the pair together, possibly in March, Reyna announced at a status hearing in Waco’s 19th State District Court.

A woman court officials identified as a relative of one of the men started crying and screaming at the announcement.

She ran from the courtroom and her cries could be heard echoing throughout the rotunda, court officials said.

Tyrece Edward Richards, 23; Kennedy Wayne Hardway, 25; and Darvis Tyrell Cummings, 20; also were indicted for capital murder in June in the deaths of Tyus Sneed, 17, and Keenan “Lockie” Hubert, 20.

The pair were shot and killed as they sat in the back seat of a car at the complex at 1601 Spring St.

Two other men in the front seat of the car suffered multiple gunshot wounds, but were able to escape and flee from the area, police said.

Waco attorney John Donahue, who represents Love with Austin attorney Jon Evans, said he is disappointed in the decision to seek the death penalty against his client. He declined additional comment.

Waco attorney Russ Hunt Sr. represents Ricky Cummings with Waco attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr.

Hunt also said he is disappointed, adding that he and Reaves are in the early stages of reviewing the state’s evidence against their client.

Reyna declined to say what decisions, if any, have been made about how his office intends to proceed against the other three defendants.

“We focused on the ones we wanted to try first,” Reyna said. “We wanted to make that known to the court today, as well as the other side.”

Reyna said in June after the men were indicted that authorities don’t think all five men fired shots that resulted in the deaths of the two men.

But the five are charged under the law of parties, Reyna said, making them equally culpable for the planning and execution of the attack.

In capital murder cases in which the state does not seek the death penalty, defendants face life without parole. They were indicted for capital murder because more than one person died in the criminal episode.

Hunt said he and Reaves will seek the appointment of expert witnesses in the case, including one who specializes in cellphone technology.

“We are certainly not going to spend any more of the county’s money than we have to, but unfortunately, when the state seeks the death penalty, it increases the costs unbelievably,” Hunt said.

Hunt said his client might need psychological or physiological examinations, depending on what the defense or their experts determine.

“We have to check out everything and every possibility because in the event of a conviction, everything we do is going to be second-guessed,” Hunt said. “So we just have to be terribly careful.”

Hunt said the cellphone technology expert is necessary because the state is building much of its case on text messages that were sent the night of the shootings and on tracking cellphones in an attempt to pinpoint where a phone, and its potential owner, were at certain times of the evening.

“Cellphone records are a major part of the state’s case, so we have to get them examined,” he said.

According to court records, police said Ricky Cummings, Love, Richards and Hardway were part of a group who approached the car where the victims were sitting and started firing handguns and an assault rifle.

The onslaught pierced the driver’s side of the car with at least 20 bullet holes, police said.

Witnesses reported seeing five men flee the scene of the shooting. One appeared to be acting as a lookout during the attack, police said.

twitherspoon@wacotrib.com

757-5737

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