Text messages evidence in trial

During the fifth day of the Terrance X. Perez homicide trial on Friday, screen shots of cellphone text messages were displayed in court to show how a fight escalated.

Perez, 22, faces charges for the fatal shooting of Jamil M. Bryant at about 10:30 p.m. May 11, 2015.

Jason Bolt, agent with the Williamsport Bureau of Police, said that the text messages shown in court were to Brandon Love’s phone from Jamil Bryant and his brother, Evan Bryant. The messages were sent during the day of the shooting.

The argument originated when Jamil Bryant shorted Rory Herbert $20, according to Herbert’s previous testimony. However, it escalated to an argument between Jamil Bryant and Love, Herbert’s cousin.

Bolt said that Love felt threatened because Jamil Bryant said he would come shoot Love’s home or Love’s car, and Love did not wish for his son to be harmed. Evan Bryant texted to ask Love to explain what his brother was arguing about with Love.

“He threatened my crib where my son lay his head,” said one of Love’s texts to Evan Bryant.

Evan Bryant responded to Love, “Don’t worry about it … He’s just on some (expletive).”

While Evan Bryant tried to de-escalate the situation, Jamil Bryant kept sending texts messages to Love’s phone.

“Y’all can mix me or we can shot it,” Jamil Bryant’s text message said.

According to Bolt, “mix” means that he wanted to fight.

In another text message from Jamil Bryant, he said that the problem was not with Love but if he wanted to make it about himself, he was welcome to do so. He repeatedly told Love that he was ready for him, and he put a hit out on him and Perez, according to Bolt.

Evan Bryant kept texting Love while Jamil Bryant continued to argue with Love.

“Evan says that no one’s going to shoot anyone, he’s (Jamil Bryant’s) just high,” Bolt said. Evan said that no one would shoot anyone over $20, and he asked Love to just ignore the messages.

Love replied to Evan Bryant that he was concerned with his son’s safety. He continued to argue with Jamil Bryant.

In another text message from Love’s phone, Bolt said that Perez inserted himself into the argument using Love’s phone, “saying that the message was from ‘T.’ ”

Perez texted Jamil Bryant that text messages were “for the birds,” and he did not want to see what was coming after that.

Love also continued to argue.

“You don’t (expletive) with my son’s life,” Love texted to Jamil Bryant.

The text messages kept escalating, including more insults and threats.

“I shoot for fun,” Jamil Bryant sent to Love.

In another text message, Jamil Bryant asked if the three were coming to him or not. He did not specify which three he was referring to, but the only named people in the conversation were Perez, Love and Herbert. Other testimony named the three people involved in the shooting as Cosme Berrones, Love and Perez.

The last text message Jamil Bryant sent to Love’s phone was at 9:10 p.m. About an hour later, Jamil Bryant was fatally shot.

“You just shot my lil brother,” Evan Bryant texted to Love at 10:48 p.m.

Lauren Force, forensic scientist, testified as an expert witness in DNA analysis. She said that the only successful DNA recovered from the assault rifle used to fatally shoot Jamil Bryant belonged to Perez.

In an interview with police after being captured in South Carolina on May 31, 2015, Perez denied being the shooter. The interview was played in court.

“You have Cosme and Brandon saying I did it … I didn’t have nothing to do with that homicide,” Perez said. “That’s all you have … Their word against mine.”

He did admit to being able to take off his ankle monitor in the interview. He said he kept it during the day so the GPS tracking would appear to be normal, but he would keep it at home at night.

“The first day I took it off, I had it in my pocket. I carried it around in my pocket,” he said.

When asked why he did not come to reveal his innocence sooner, he said he believed the system worked that he was guilty until proven innocent.

“Basically, I’m on the run now. I’m on a parole violation … Why not live it up?” he said.

He said he did not have any guns. He denied any involvement with the shooting.

Perez faces charges of criminal homicide, conspiracy of criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm prohibited.

Perez’s trial is scheduled to continue through Monday before President Judge Nancy L. Butts.