DALLAS - A 13-year-old choked back tears on the witness stand Tuesday as he told a Dallas County jury how he was forced to look at the corpses of his murdered mother and young sister.
The emotional testimony came in the capital murder trial of Gary Green, 39. He is accused of killing his wife, Lovetta Armstead, and her six-year-old daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, at their South Oak Cliff home last September. Armstead was killed shortly after informing Green that she intended to get their marriage annulled, according to police and prosecutors.
After Green stabbed Armstead repeatedly and drowned the little girl in the bathtub, he forced the woman's two sons to view the dead bodies, the 13-year-old testified. His younger brother was nine at the time.
The younger brother also testified, after initially bursting into tears when Green entered the courtroom.
The boy, now 10, was seated at the witness stand during a break and was all smiles while talking to attorneys. But as soon as he saw Green enter from a holding cell, he started crying.
When prosecutors couldn't calm him, he was ushered from the courtroom. The jury was not in the room.
The boy returned minutes later, armed with pockets full of candy. He sat down and said, "OK" in a loud voice.
As the boy testified, he looked constantly at Green, who sat quietly and stared ahead throughout the day's testimony.
The boy said he once cared for Green, telling jurors, "I loved him to death."
The older boy, testifying first, said Green told him and his brother he had something to show them and led them into a bedroom. When they saw their mother lying on the floor, "We just fall on our knee and start crying," the boy said.
They then saw their sister's body face down on the bloody floor of the bathroom. Her hands were bound behind her back with duct tape.
The boy said Green ordered him to retrieve his pills, forcing him to walk through the blood on the bathroom floor.
Green then left, he said, after making the boys hug him and promise not to call the police until he left.
The boy said Green told them he was going to kill himself.
"You know how I told you to say, 'See you later' and never 'Bye?'" the boy quoted Green as saying. "Well, this is goodbye."
Earlier in the day, prosecutors introduced three letters that the couple exchanged on the day of the murders.
In the first message, written on notebook paper, Armstead asked Green to move out of their home: "I know you love me and I love you but it's time we part."
In the second, she voices her regrets at allowing Green back into her life.
In the final letter, submitted into evidence in his capital murder trial today, Green said he planned to kill Armstead, her three children and himself.
"You asked to see the monster so here is the monster you made me!" he wrote. "They will be 5 lives taken today me being the 5th!"
It’s not clear whether Armstead read the entire letter before she was stabbed 28 times in the bathroom of their home in September 2009.
Dallas County prosecutors said in opening statements that the trial would lay out for jurors "the abject horror choreographed by Gary Green."
If convicted of capital murder, Green, 39, will face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
At one point in his final letter to Armstead, Green reflects on his fate.
"I pray that the Lord allows my soul to enter Heaven," he writes. "If not I will burn in Hell forever."
The attack against Armstead was so violent, Prosecutor Andy Beach said, that when one knife broke, Green would grab another.
Beach said Armstead fought back as her 6-year-old daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, lay watching on her bed, bound with duct tape.
Armstead managed to grab the knife and stab Green twice behind his shoulder. They were superficial wounds.
But her stab wounds were too much and she died "a slow, painful agonizing death," Beach said.
Green then grabbed the girl and drowned her in the bathtub. He would later tell police that "it was so bad, I had to turn away."
A postscript of the last letter Green wrote to Armstead explained why the children were targeted.
"Why the kids because they were a big part of the plot against by always talking behind my back," he wrote.
The killings took place shortly after Armstead sought to have her marriage to Green annulled. They wed in June 2009 after living together for a year or two, relatives of the woman said.
On the annulment documents, Armstead checked two boxes to explain why the marriage should be dissolved: One or both of parties were "under duress, fraudulently induced or forced to marry," and "did not possess the mental capacity to enter into marriage."
Green had moved out by the day of the killings, but, according to family members, he told Armstead that his parole officer was going to check on him at their home the day of the slayings. Green persuaded her to let him spend the day at their brick house in the 3800 block of Morning Springs Trail in Dallas.
About 5:30 p.m., Armstead dropped off her sons, then nine and 12, at church. Dallas police say it was after she returned home that Green killed her and the six-year-old, Jazzmen Montgomery.
Green then showered in the same tub where he'd killed the little girl, put on church clothes and left to pick up his two stepsons at church.
About 8 p.m., Green picked up the boys and brought them home. After telling the older boy to take a bath, he called the younger brother into the kitchen, according to investigators. Green grabbed the boy and began cutting on his neck with a knife. But it was the dull side of the blade.
Green stabbed the boy in the abdomen, and the boy called for his older brother.
Somehow, Beach said, the boys did what their mother could not and convinced Green not to kill them.
"Gary, we love you," Beach quoted the boys as saying. "You don't need to kill us. We're too young to die."
But Green did show them the bodies of their mother and sister before he left.
"I killed your mom because I loved her to death," Beach said Green told the boys. Green said he killed their sister because she would tell what happened.
In his brief opening remarks, Green's defense attorney, Paul Johnson, asked jurors not to make up their minds until they hear all the evidence.
According to police documents, Green left the home in his wife's car and called his mother, who told him to turn himself in.
He did so and confessed to the slayings in a videotaped statement, police said.
Green was paroled in 2000 after spending 10 years in prison for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. He also spent time in jail, accused of failing to pay child support.
Armstead worked part time for the Dallas Independent School District. Green was not the father of her three children.