Opening arguments were heard Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Marquavious Tirrell Howard, who is charged with the 2016 murder of a 67-year-old Opelika taxi driver.

Howard is accused in the murder of William Foreman.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes is prosecuting the case.

“William Foreman served his community as a taxi driver,” Hughes told the jury. “He did this for over 30 years. It’s what he did for his community, it’s how he provided for himself, provided for his family.

"And that’s what he was doing on August 30th that evening when he gets called out for a fare, gets shot twice in the head, dumped on the side of the road, robbed of his cash.

"His van was driven to Columbus and set on fire. That’s why we’re here.”

Background

Howard was 25 years old when he was arrested in connection to Foreman's murder.

Family and friends knew Foreman as ‘Jug,’ and he was married to Edna Foreman for 16 years, according to records.

Foreman lay on the road at the intersection of Lee Road 401 and Lee Road 170 near Salem when the Lee County Sheriff’s department received the call that he’d been found around 6:30 a.m on Aug. 31 2016. There were 9 mm luger pistol shell casings near his body, according to records.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said at the time that the body had looked to be dead for near 12 hours before being pronounced dead around 9 a.m.

Another suspect, Martez Anthony Simmons, was arrested with Howard.

Simmons had seen Foreman come into the Burger King where he worked on the night of the murder, Lee County Sheriff Investigator Jennifer Bosler said at a preliminary hearing in October 2016.

Simmons then called Foreman, tracing later revealed, District Attorney Hughes said, telling the jury that what happened between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. resulted in Foreman’s death.

The Columbus Police Department received a call about a burning car around 10:30 p.m. on Old Cusseta Road in Columbus, which turned out to be William Foreman’s taxi.

Opening Statements

Simmons told police that it was Howard who took both Foreman’s money and his life, Hughes said in court.

“Capital murder is simply an intentional killing involving something else,” Hughes said.

Hughes argued that this killing was intentional and involved robbery of Foreman.

Hughes revealed that one of the witnesses in the case, Craig Stinson, said that Howard came to him and asked to trade guns.

“Forensic sciences positively identifies through ballistics that that is the murder weapon,” Hughes said. “So we’ve got Mr. Stinson, he’s going to get up here and he’s going to tell you that Marquavious Howard brought him [the gun] and that was the murder weapon.”

'Considered innocent'

Howard’s attorney, Everett Wess, provided opening statements on behalf of the defendant and argued that not only should Howard be considered innocent, but that the death of Foreman was not intentional.

“He is presumed innocent until you get back in that room … and begin deliberating,” West said.  “So the scales are tipped 100 percent in Mr. Howard’s favor.”

Wess listed some of the things that will have to be proven against Howard, including intention of robbery or murder, the use of force during the incident and Howard’s use of a deadly weapon.

Howard and Simmons were originally arrested in September 2016 and took part in a preliminary hearing in October. Lee County District Judge Steven Speakman ruled then that the men should be held without bond.

Howard and Simmons were formally arrested in April 2017 after receiving capital murder charges.

'He killed my husband'

Edna Foreman said after the opening statements that she feels like the death of her husband just happened.

Regarding the suspects, “He made his own decision, he killed my husband. They made their own decision. They signed their own death warrant so it’s up to whatever God has for them.”

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