Nicholas Durant (Montgomery County Jail)
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Retha Wright took the stand Monday afternoon and told the jury about the last time she saw her daughter, Spc. Shardae Wright, with her new husband Nicholas Durant.
It was Feb. 24, and the family was celebrating the fourth birthday of Shardae’s son, Kameron. The newly wed couple had traveled to Arkansas to spend time with her mom.
They ate, laughed and enjoyed the family celebration.
"Shardae was very happy," Retha Wright said, overcome with emotion. "She was smiling and she had a glow about her."
There was no indication that her daughter would be killed by Durant approximately a week later, she said.
Former U.S. soldier Nicholas Rico Durant, 22, is charged with first-degree felony murder for the shooting death of Shardae Wright.
Durant and Wright had been married 10 days, when on March 3, 2012, Durant allegedly shot her six to eight times inside of her roommate’s bathroom at The Grove Apartments.
A Clarksville Police officer testified he found Wright deceased inside the bathtub lying in a pool of her own blood. A Tek-9 gun and magazine lie under her body.
Durant entered a not guilty plea before his trial began Monday morning in Judge Mike R. Jones’ court.
The jury heard opening statements from Helen Young, assistant district attorney, and Durant’s attorney Crystal Myers, assistant public defender.
Opening statements were given, and the state introduced five to six witnesses before court adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
Court will resume at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
Young told the jury Durant thought about his actions before murdering his wife.
She said evidence would show around the same time Durant and Wright wed, Durant became a father to a baby girl, by a woman named Deidra Allen.
The night before the shooting, Durant and Wright were seen together with Durant’s new baby girl. Durant went to get a haircut at the home of his mentor, friend and former supervisor, soldier England Phillip.
After getting a haircut and dropping the newborn at her mother’s, Durant and Wright went back to Wright’s apartment at The Grove, Young said.
Her friend and roommate’s friend and Durant had some alcoholic drinks. Wright and Durant decided not to go to the club with the men and stayed at the apartment.
"The next time anyone sees Shardae Wright, she’s banging on the door of her roommate and the defendant is following her with a gun," Young said. "She and her roommate go into the bathroom and Mr. Durant kicks the door open. She hears Shardae Wright say, ‘Please don’t, I have a kid.’ Her roommate runs past him and hears gun shots."
Young said the evidence will show Durant killed his new wife and emptied the magazine clip shooting her.
"The proof will show he shot until he couldn’t shoot no more," Young said. "He had time to think about this. ... The bottom line is Shardae Wright is dead and she can’t tell you what (happened)."
Myers said her client was not asking for a not guilty verdict and knew he would be convicted of something, but asked for a lesser charge.
Myers painted what happened as a “fight to make-up” relationship that had been building issues over several months. She said Wright’s controlling and jealous attitude caused issues in their relationship and marriage.
She said Wright had cut Durant on the arm, threw things at him and moved his keys when they argued.
"Everyone will tell you he was calm and tried to calm the situation. He tried to leave," Myers said. "… He’d say this isn’t healthy – we fight and fight and fight. ... He’d go back to try and work on it. ... It just got worse."
Myers said that night, Durant had some alcoholic drinks and fell asleep in Wright’s bed. She said Wright threw water in his face. Durant became upset, took his ring off and declared he wanted a divorce. He began to pack his bags when he noticed his gun and gun case missing, Myers said.
He thought she was shooting his car up, but Myers said she had the gun and Durant believed she was going to kill him.
He grabbed the gun from her and she ran into the house and locked the doors, Myers said.
"He absolutely just lost it," Myers said. " He had been drinking heavily and they had been fighting and arguing for seven months. He doesn’t remember what happened. He’s in complete shock and disbelief. … He loved her and there’s nothing he’d rather do than to have walked away or made another choice."