Travis Spencer on trial for murder in Okeechobee

“I told him to be still. He was moving too much and blood was coming out. His eyes were rolling back in his head,” sobbed Kiwana Jones as she told jurors about the last time she saw her cousin, William ‘Bear’ Curry.

Ms. Jones, 29, took the stand Tuesday morning, Sept. 22, on behalf of the state as prosecutors try to convict Travis Arterius Spencer, 26, of killing Curry in a robbery attempt that went bad.

“Trav shot me! Trav shot me! That’s the only thing he (Curry) could tell his family and law enforcement,” said Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright in his opening statements.

Trav is short for Travis, indicated the prosecutor.

Curry, a well known drug dealer, was killed Aug. 8, 2014, when Spencer and Terrance T. Spivey, 23, conspired to rob ‘Bear’ of his drugs and cash.

Spencer is charged with first degree murder with a firearm, burglary of a dwelling with an assault or battery while armed and robbery with a deadly weapon.

Trials for Spivey, and accomplice Latisha McBride, have been scheduled for November.

Spivey is facing the same charges as Spencer. McBride, who drove the two men to a Sebring hospital, is charged with two felony counts of accessory after the fact.

Mr. Albright told the jury how Spencer and Spivey had seen Curry receive a “large shipment of drugs” on Aug. 7.

Syreeta Johnson testified she was standing by a store front in the Douglas Park subdivision with Spencer, Spivey and McBride when Curry took possession of those drugs. At that point, she told the jury, Spencer said he was going to rob Curry of the drugs.

She said Spencer told her Curry had just received a shipment of MDMA, which is known on the street as mollies or ecstasy.

During his opening statement, Mr. Albright explained how McBride made several trips to Curry’s one-room apartment in Nab’s Apartments at 580 N.E. 13th Ave. She kept going to his place the night before he was shot to “buy drugs and make sure he was there,” said the prosecutor.

The next morning Spencer, who was armed with a handgun, took his place outside the one window of Curry’s room while Spivey knocked on the door. Curry would sell drugs out that one window, the prosecutor explained.
Spencer, said Mr. Albright, shot Curry up to four times through the window.

But, that didn’t stop Curry.

A fight soon broke out between Curry and Spivey, said Cornelius Lawton, who had an apartment across the hall from Curry.

The fight spilled out into the building’s hallway where Curry pushed open the door to Mr. Lawton’s apartment.

Curry, testified Mr. Lawton, knew the door wouldn’t lock.

“I believe he pushed the door open so I could see what was going on,” said Mr. Lawton. “He (Curry) was a fighter. He was really fighting for his life.”
Mr. Lawton went on to tell the jury he heard Curry plead for his life.

“Please don’t kill me! I’ve got two kids! Take whatever you want!” pleaded Curry, a boxer and mixed martial arts enthusiast.

As many as three, maybe four, shots were fired. Then, said Mr. Lawton, there was silence.

“I opened the door (to Curry’s room) and saw blood and money,” said Mr. Lawton, who, along with his girlfriend, then quickly left the rooming house.

Curry managed to drag his nearly nude body to a home less than 100 yards from the rooming house where he woke Ms. Jones. She went outside and saw her cousin bleeding from gunshot wounds to his right knee and his abdomen.

Ms. Jones called 9-1-1 and Deputy Lieutenant Shannon Peterson, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), was the first to arrive at the small concrete block home.

While on the stand, Lt. Peterson told Assistant State Attorney Don Richardson when he saw Curry had been shot, he activated a recorder and asked the man who shot him.

“He was obviously in a lot of pain, but he said it was Trav,” said Lt. Peterson. “(OCSO) Deputy Bart Potter (who also answered the 9-1-1 call) asked him if it was Travis Spencer, and he said yes.”

Spencer, Spivey and McBride were captured after they later went to a Sebring hospital where Spivey could be treated for a gunshot wound to the leg. Curry, states OCSO arrest reports, somehow managed to get the gun from Spencer and fired at his attackers until the gun jammed.

One round grazed the right side of Spencer’s head, while Spivey was shot in the leg.

When the trio sought treatment at the Sebring hospital, staff there notified the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) about the gunshot victim.

HCSO deputies went to the hospital and detained the three until OCSO detectives Ted Van Deman and Rosemary Farless arrived to question them, and subsequently place them under arrest.

Spencer is represented by local defense attorneys Rebecca Boldt and Richard Seymour.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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