NORRISTOWN — Three weeks before he was fatally shot, a Norristown man had a heated argument about a drug debt and pricing with the man who supplied him with painkillers and who prosecutors claim was the gunman, according to testimony at the accused killer’s trial.
Shaakira Harris, the wife of murder victim Tyrone Guy, recalled an Oct. 29, 2022, argument between Guy and Eugene “Roc” Ware when Ware increased the price of Percocet pills that previously had been fronted to Guy.
“He was angry. He was agitated. He was yelling. He was really aggressive, cocky, disrespectful,” Harris recalled Ware’s demeanor during a phone conversation she overheard when Guy questioned why Ware suddenly increased the price for pills that Guy had already received.
Montgomery County prosecutors Tanner Beck and Karla Pisarcik argued that the dispute precipitated a Nov. 21 confrontation in the 900 block of West Main Street in Norristown during which Ware allegedly fatally shot Guy. Prosecutors relied on Harris’ testimony solely to establish the relationship between Guy and Ware and to paint a total picture of that relationship for the jury of 10 women and two men.
Harris testified for prosecutors that Guy, 35, of the 500 block of Noble Street in Norristown, was born with a birth defect known as clubfoot and suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, causing him to suffer severe pain. Guy had an arrangement to purchase painkillers from Ware for personal use and sometimes he resold the pills, according to testimony.
“He had something we needed. He had Percocets and we needed them,” Harris testified, claiming the “main objective” of the relationship between Guy and Ware “was the pills.”
Defense lawyers James P. Lyons and Benjamin Cooper didn’t dispute that Ware and Guy had been involved in a dispute over the pricing of drugs but they argued the dispute was settled weeks before, evidenced by a text message to Guy in which Ware wrote, “We good. I don’t want no smoke.”
Ware, 41, who listed addresses in Philadelphia and the Perkasie area of Bucks County, faces charges of first and third-degree murder, firearms not to be carried without a license, persons not to possess a firearm and possessing instruments of crime in connection with the fatal shooting.
Pisarcik and Beck are seeking a conviction of first-degree murder, which is an intentional killing and punishable of life imprisonment upon conviction. Third-degree murder, a killing committed with malice or hardness of heart, cruelty or a recklessness of consequences, is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
Lyons and Cooper contend Ware is not the person who killed Guy.
Prosecutors wrapped up their case on Tuesday with the testimony of county Detective Heather Long who testified an analysis of cellphone data showed Ware’s cellphones were in the Norristown area at the time of the fatal shooting. Jurors also viewed surveillance camera footage from the area that depicted a Cadillac sedan, similar to one known to be operated by Ware, arriving in the area of the 900 block of West Main Street just moments before the fatal shooting.
Ware reportedly is weighing whether to testify in his own defense when the trial resumes on Wednesday morning.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Wednesday after hearing the closing statements from the lawyers and receiving legal instructions from Judge William R. Carpenter.
The homicide investigation began about 10 p.m. Nov. 21 when Norristown police responded to the West Main Street location for reports of shots fired and found Guy on a sidewalk suffering from gunshot wounds to his lower extremities, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective Gregory Henry and Norristown Detective William Klinger.
Guy was transported to Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia where he was pronounced dead at 2:19 a.m. Nov. 22.
An autopsy determined Guy’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to his lower left extremity, specifically his thigh, and the manner of death was ruled homicide.
“He bled to death because one of his major arteries was pierced by a bullet,” Dr. Victoria Sorokin, a forensic pathologist in Philadelphia who performed Guy’s autopsy, testified.
A .40-caliber projectile was retrieved from Guy’s body during the autopsy, according to testimony.
While processing the crime scene, detectives recovered two fired cartridge casings, one from a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson and the other from a 9mm Luger.
Focusing on the fact that casings of two different calibers were found at the scene, Cooper and Lyons suggested someone other than Ware fired the shot that killed Guy.
In addition to recovering the two fired cartridge casings at the scene, detectives recovered three cellphones, including an iPhone belonging to the victim. That iPhone, detectives said, was actively recording video when officers found it and they stopped the recording and preserved the cellphone for further examination.
When detectives analyzed Guy’s cellphone they found a video depicting a confrontation with a man later determined to be Ware, seconds before the shooting occurred, according to the criminal complaint.
“The recording captures the audio and video portion of the confrontation,” Henry and Klinger alleged in the criminal complaint.
Jurors appeared riveted as the cellphone recording was played on a large projection screen in the courtroom during the trial.
In the recording, Ware, as he paced in front of the victim, can be heard stating, “You tryin’ to record me? Yo that’s some cop damn s*** to do,” according to the criminal complaint. Guy can be heard stating, “What you up to?” according to court documents.
“During that exchange, Ware appears to be concealing something behind his back in his right hand,” Henry and Klinger alleged, adding that as the exchange concluded Ware swung his left hand at Guy, knocking Guy’s mobile phone to the ground.
Two seconds after the phone is knocked from the victim’s hand a gunshot is heard, followed 10 seconds later by a second gunshot.
Lyons, during his cross-examination of Henry, pointed out that the recording did not depict Ware brandishing a gun.
“His right arm was behind his back. I don’t know what’s there but no gun is visible,” Henry responded to Lyons.
In a criminal complaint, Henry and Klinger alleged the recording “clearly depicts the face of Eugene Ware and captures his tattoos, wrist watch and the black winter jacket he is wearing,” adding the jacket had a distinct red and white emblem on the left breast area.
The investigation determined the jacket was linked to a brand of clothing modeled and sold by Ware online through his Instagram account, according to testimony.
While defense lawyers didn’t dispute that Ware was at the scene of the fatal shooting, they argued Ware wasn’t the person who fired the fatal shot, suggesting the recording also captured the voice of a third person near the scene of the confrontation.
Ware was apprehended several days after the alleged killing following a brief standoff at an East Rockhill Township residence in Bucks County.