08/20/2019
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One of the trio accused in the murder of former Bladen County resident Melissa Huggins-Jones took to the witness stand on Thursday. Sarah Redden described her role in the evening’s crime spree as well as events leading up to murder.

Redden, now 21, was testifying against Travion Devonte Smith, who along with Redden and Ronald Anthony Jr., are charged with first-degree murder in Huggins-Jones’ death. Anthony Jr. has accepted a plea bargain from the state and received a sentence of life in prison without parole for his role in the murder. Redden testified that she does not have any type of agreement with the state regarding her testimony.

She admitted in testimony that she was the lookout for Smith and Anthony Jr. as they went from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for unlocked cars to burglarize.  Redden said as they walked they come upon an apartment complex that was under construction.

Redden described how at the apartment complex there was a building that appeared to be under construction as it was illuminated and another building appeared to be occupied. She said they noticed one apartment building that had a parking garage beneath it and they gained entry to it. Redden described how Anthoyn Jr. and Smith went from car to car checking for unlocked vehicles. She said they took an I-pod and other items from the unlocked vehicles.

Redden that they tried to break into a locked storage room but to no avail. She said then as they decided to leave the parking garage, they found a door that led them to the lobby of the building where mailboxes for the residents were located. Redden said they broke into the mailboxes and eventually left. She said as they were leaving, they proceeded on to the apartments.

Redden said they walked up on an apartment under construction and Anthony Jr. and Smith left her there to charge her cell phone.

“Ron and Travion said they were going to go check something,” said Redden. She said waited in the apartment for about five to ten minutes and then stepped outside to see where they had gone. She said when she did not see them she went back inside the apartment and waited.

Redden said when she checked again and didn’t see Anthony and Smith she decided to go and look for them. Redden testified that she did not see them at the cars parked in front of the occupied building.

Redden testified that she did not see anyone climb up onto the balcony of Huggins-jones’ apartment. She testified that as she approached the apartment building she saw a police car and hid underneath a stairwell at the complex. She said when she noticed the police car leave, she came out of her hiding place and heard a noise and looked up to see Smith on the second floor balcony wiping the railing with his shirt.

Redden testified that when she asked him where Anthony was he pointed to the door behind him. She said she noticed headlights again and again she hid under the stairwell. She described how the police car used a light to shine up into the shrubbery. She said the officer did not notice her hiding place.

She testified that when they left the apartment building one of the men had two water bottles and the other had two laptop computers.

Redden said that they were picked up by a friend of Anthony Jr. and taken to a parking lot where she witnessed both Smith and Anthony Jr. rinse their hands with a bottle of water.

Redden also gave testimony in before the judge without the jury present, about how Anthony told her he had stabbed Huggins-Jones because she was screaming and he was trying to force her to be quiet.

In earlier testimony this week, detectives described how they located the stolen laptops and were able to link them to Smith and Anthony.

Amber Alberts also testified on Thursday. She told the jury how Smith and Anthony Jr., who was her boyfriend, arrived at her place of work and showed her the laptops. She said Anthony tried to give her the orange laptop and she refused to accept it. Alberts testified that she also noticed GPS systems and an I-pod in the backpack that she assumed were also stolen.

When asked how she knew that, Alberts testified, “Two people who don’t have a job aren’t going to have nice laptops.”

She said police later showed up at the home she shared with Anthony and another couple and searched it. Alberts aid the police seized the backpack and the items within it.

Testimony is scheduled to resume in the case on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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