Prosecution says 2011 motel killing was recorded on call from the county jail

Prosecutors: Muscogee inmate was calling room when gunfire erupted

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 11, 2013 

The murder trial for two men accused of killing a Fort Benning worker at a Victory Drive motel in 2011 was postponed Monday when prosecutors produced an audio recording of a telephone conversation they say caught the killing on tape.

Defense attorneys for Calvin D. Denson and Dominique Reginal Lowe then sought more time to investigate the call and the telephone records, so Superior Court Judge John Allen reset the trial date for April 1.

Denson and Lowe are charged in the Sept. 9, 2011, slaying of 38-year-old Julian Hernandez of Calhoun, Ga., a Fort Benning contract worker who since Aug. 1 had been staying at the Plaza Motel, 3540 Victory Drive, where gunfire erupted about 10:30 p.m. that Friday in Room 223.

That gunfire and the argument preceding it were recorded because a Muscogee County jail inmate named Marcus Price happened to call the motel room to speak to a prostitute who was there, authorities said. The jail typically records such outgoing calls.

Examining telephone records compiled as evidence in the case, authorities last week realized a call from the jail was listed, and checked to see if it was recorded.

The jail not only had the recording, the recording captured the shooting, said Assistant District Attorney George Lipscomb.

In court Monday, that evidence prompted defense attorneys Ray Lakes and Tim Flournoy to seek more time to probe the telephone call and the records that investigators say document when it was made.

Police have said Lowe went to Hernandez's motel room that night to sell cocaine, but he brought crack cocaine instead of the powdered drug people in the room wanted. So Lowe left and came back with powdered cocaine, and stepped out of the room after being paid, detectives said.

When Lowe left, Denson came in with a gun and ordered everyone to lie on the floor. Hernandez was fatally shot in the left arm and right side of the chest as he fought with Denson, police said.

At the time of the homicide, Denson was 19 and Lowe was 24. Investigators said phone records showed Lowe and Denson had been in contact with each other before the shooting.

In the room with Hernandez during the shooting were a co-worker and two women the co-worker later said he did not know -- women Hernandez had invited in.

The co-worker, Luis Hernandez Aguires, said two men who knew the women showed up and tried to sell them drugs.

"He gave us a bag of drugs," Hernandez Aguires told a Ledger-Enquirer reporter in 2011. "He threw it at me. I threw it back to him and said, 'I don't need this. You got the wrong door, wrong guys. You better go outside.'"

When one of the two dealers came back in and started shooting, Hernandez Aguires ducked into the bathroom and called police, he said.

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