At Opening Arguments, Prosecutors Say Afternoon of PCP Smoking Ended with Fatal Shot

Jurors heard opening arguments Tuesday in the murder trial against Karl Pugh.

Pugh, 30, is charged with second-degree murder and three firearms charges in connection with the shooting death of 27-year-old Quentin Joavor Ragland.

Prosecutors believe that on Sept. 20, 2011, Pugh shot Ragland in the eye for reasons that remain unclear.

“Mr. Pugh put a bullet right through his friend’s eye,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Truscott said during opening arguments. “He did not set out and plan to kill Mr. Ragland, but it happened.”

Jason Downs, Pugh’s defense attorney, argued that Pugh had no reason to shoot his friend and that someone else pulled the trigger outside Ragland’s apartment that day.

“You will not find Mr. Pugh’s fingerprints on that gun,” Downs said during opening statements. “The government has no idea who left their DNA on the trigger of that gun.”

What is not in dispute is that together Pugh, Ragland, and another person smoked PCP the afternoon Ragland was killed.

At trial, a witness testified that Ragland drove her and Pugh to obtain PCP from a dealer who lived a short distance from Ragland’s apartment on Southern Avenue Southeast. The three of them smoked two “dippers” in Ragland’s vehicle outside his apartment complex before going their separate ways. Pugh and Ragland, the witness testified, planned to head into Ragland’s apartment.

The witness said no argument nor confrontation had occurred in her presence. And when the group separated, Ragland was laughing and joking, but Pugh looked angry, the witness testified.

A few minutes later, as she was leaving a nearby grocery market, the witness heard police sirens coming up the street. She never heard a gun shot, according to trial testimony.

Police found Ragland lying in the hallway outside his apartment suffering from a single gunshot wound to his eye; his apartment keys were in his left hand. The front door to his apartment was ajar when police arrived on the scene, and a pile of scattered CD’s were in the doorway.

The gun that was later recovered from a nearby parking lot was a 1910 Colt revolver, which contained the wrong type of ammunition, Truscott said during opening statements. Technicians were unable to fire the gun to determine if it had been used to kill Ragland because of safety issues, Truscott added.

Trial will resume Wednesday morning in Judge Ronna Beck’s courtroom.

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