FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Street names are important in this week’s murder trial. For starters, Tremaine Wyatt, 28, aka “Tank” or “Tank G,” is charged in the shooting death on July 21, 2020, of Allen Lamar Ruffin, or “AG” to his friends.

It was one of his so-called friends, a man known on the streets as “Pork,” who “put some money on AG’s head,” as related in opening statements by Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille.

And family members are still shaking their heads. “Pork” was one of Ruffin’s best friends, they said.

Murder victim Allen Lamar Ruffin with his mother, Nichelle Lamb-Freeman.

The second day of this murder trial seemed to center on logistics. There’s been no talk of drugs or money or stealing another’s man’s girl.

The prosecution sought to prove that Wyatt was in the vicinity of Ruffin’s home at 2516 Lillie St. around 8 p.m. that summer night when the shooting took place. Footage shows it was sunny.

A phone belonging to Wyatt was tracked by FWPD digital forensics to that location, but defense attorney John Cantrell chipped away at that after he established that Wyatt, who lived 1.6 miles away in the 4000 block of Monroe Street, could have accessed the same cell tower from there.

Ruffin, who was 31 when he was shot on the front porch of 2516 Lillie St., was attempting to fix doorbell camera surveillance just in case something bad happened, according to court records.

The “just in case” occurred before he could repair the “off-brand” device, according to lead homicide detective Donald Lewis. So there was no video to pull from that camera, although Wyatt’s 2016 black Nissan Altima was tracked from a neighbor’s camera surveillance from the parking lot of the Coke apartments at Lillie and East Pontiac streets.

On the first day of trial, Hammond attorney John Cantrell told the jury on Tuesday that the prosecution “got the wrong guy.”

On Wednesday, Cantrell criticized Reshanae Wilhite’s recollection of who it was who shot her from a small black car. To some, she said the driver’s side window was rolled down only so much – like to the “bridge of the nose” – and to others, she indicated that it was down far enough to identify Wyatt’s goatee.

After Wilhite was taken to Lutheran Hospital, suffering from a debilitating hand wound and bullet wounds to both legs, she told homicide detective Jeff Marsee that the guy who shot her was the brother of SirThomas Billingsley, the associate mentioned by his own name at this trial.

Then she remembered Wyatt and then his first name. The struggle was real, Marsee said, because she was being treated for bullet wounds and pain, as she lay in the hospital, fearful and traumatized.

But it’s Wyatt’s fate that’s at stake at this trial and he is getting one as he wished. His attorney asked Lewis if Ruffin and Wilhite’s cell phones were forensically investigated, but they were not.

Did they ever track down the guy a witness saw running down the street at the time of the shooting? No, Lewis said, because he was running toward the crime scene, not away from it.

Cantrell cross-examined Fort Wayne officer Michael Long, driving an unmarked black Ford Explorer the day he arrested Wyatt in the alley behind Monroe Street. Long is a member of the federal task force and on FWPD Vice & Narcotics, sometimes uniformed, sometimes working undercover, he testified.

Wyatt “slipped down the alley” as another car left the house and was nearly immediately stopped in a traffic stop. Working undercover that day in a navy blue police uniform, he followed Wyatt down the alley and called for Wyatt to “get down.” When Wyatt took a few steps back, asking “why” with his hands up,” Long deployed his Taser gun at 10 to 15 yards, he said.

“It had the desired effect,” Long said, and Wyatt went down.

Cantrell wanted to know did he identify himself as an FWPD officer. Chief Counsel Tesa Helge, in a follow-up, maintained that it was “fairly obvious” he was a police officer.

Thursday’s testimony will feature Michelle Fletcher, a forensic firearms expert with the Indiana State Police. She will tie the two kinds of shell casings found at the scene to a .223 caliber cartridge case found in Wyatt’s black Nissan and possibly to a 9mm SCCY handgun that turned up in a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in February 2021. The Michigan State police tracked the gun to Fort Wayne.

Ammunition used for the .223 caliber rifle was rare, according to Alan Garriott, lead crime scene technician who said in the 2,000-odd firearm investigations he’s done, he’s only encountered this kind of ammunition twice.

During his testimony, Garriott showed photos of Ruffin’s home, shell casings at the curb, bullet holes around the front door, ripped drywall inside, and more bullet holes in the eating area. Bullets tore up the home’s exterior and the home next door.

Morning testimony, including Lewis’s interview with Wyatt, should break in time for closing arguments Thursday. After that, the jury will deliberate and come back with a verdict.

Both families have been there, taking up seats on either side of the courtroom. And both sides have kept everything relatively quiet. It’s hard not to bump into each other in the hallway outside. 

Wyatt was charged shortly after the homicide with murder, aggravated battery risking death, criminal recklessness where the defendant shoots into a building, and the enhancement of using a firearm in the commission of an offense. The last charge can add an additional 20 years to a sentence if convicted, and it usually does in Allen County.