MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Kelvin Cooper was murdered in December 2009, when police say he was stuffed into a trunk and set on fire. Now one of his accused killers is on trial.
Police say Dewoyne Gwynn is one of the three people responsible for his murder. At first the State was going to seek the death penalty against Gwynn. By the start of trial on May 8, that changed to life in prison.
Gwynn denies having any role in Cooper's murder.
The chilling 911 calls set the stage for the first day's testimony.
The victim stuffed in a trunk, doused in gasoline then set on fire; he lived barely long enough to tell police and doctors what happened.
Prosecuting attorney, Jennifer Nichols, told the jury Cooper was having an affair with a woman who was dating two other men, Markayle Jackson and Dewoyne Gwynn. In opening statements she said the woman lured him to her apartment with the two men hiding inside.
"He started to leave and at that point someone came up to him - that was Markayle Jackson - and said, 'You're not going anywhere.' And the nightmare began. Demoyne Gwynn came out of his hiding place as well."
According to the State, Cooper was beaten with a rifle and stabbed with a knife before he was robbed and stuffed in the trunk of his car.
"The defendant poured gasoline all on the inside of the car, then they walked to the trunk, opened it and used the gas can to pour gas all over Cooper," Nichols stated.
Somehow Cooper freed himself from the trunk. Neighbors described seeing a "ball of fire."
Witness Willie Madison testified, "I saw a man engulfed in full flames from his legs all the way up."
The defense says Gwynn had nothing to do with Cooper's murder.
Defense lawyer Ed Bronston stated, "We know who did it, we know Markayle Jackson, who's not here, we know he set Mr. Cooper on fire, he doused the car in gas and we know he poured gas on Kelvin Cooper and we know he used an old lighter to flick in there and set him on fire."
Markayle Jackson has already pled guilty and will serve life in prison without parole.
The woman accused in this case, Chronda Walker, is also supposed to testify.