Trial update: Courtroom tension mounts in Majestic murder case

Defense grills girlfriend, other victim's sister

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 20, 2014 

Defense attorneys today grilled the girlfriend of slain Charles Foster Jr. about her earlier testimony in the murder trial of Dequandrea Truitt and Shaquille Porter.

LaQuoia Arnold, 26, testified Tuesday that she saw Truitt with a gun New Year’s morning 2013 at the Majestic Sports Bar on Columbus’ Cusseta Road, but records of her interviews with police showed she did not mention that when investigators first questioned her.

Defense attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents Truitt, pointed that out while cross-examining Arnold, who countered that when questioned right after her boyfriend of eight months was shot, she was too anxious to get to the hospital to tell investigators everything she knew.

“I was trying to get to the hospital to see my husband,” Arnold said in reference to slain Charles Foster Jr., whom she called “CJ.” Fatally wounded about 2:15 a.m. in a barrage of gunfire inside the packed 2102 Cusseta Road nightclub, he died about an hour later at The Midtown Medical Center.

Jackson noted that in her interviews with detectives, Arnold clearly answered “no” when asked whether she saw who was shooting inside the nightclub, and replied “no” again when later asked whether Truitt had a gun.

Arnold said she did not initially tell detectives all she knew, because she was grieving and needed time to clear her head. “I had so much hatred in my heart, I didn’t even care about life anymore,” she testified.

On Wednesday, she reiterated her earlier testimony that as gunfire inside the club subsided, she walked out an east-side door the same time as Truitt. “He was walking over people’s heads with me, leaving out the door,” she said. At the door, she noticed he had a gun in one pocket of his hoodie sweatshirt.

Jackson hammered at Arnold’s criminal record, which showed she had three convictions from 2007 to 2010 for giving police a false name, as well as other arrests. Arnold claimed she didn’t lie to police in those cases; she simply refused to give officers her name.

She’s in jail now, having been arrested Aug. 27 for one count of terroristic threats and two of obstructing justice — charges she said will be dismissed, eventually, but, “Superior Court takes a long time.”

The charges aren’t being dropped in exchange for her testimony, she said. When Senior District Attorney LaRae Moore asked whether prosecutors had promised Arnold leniency in exchange for her testimony, Arnold wryly shook her head and said, “I wish…. I’m ready to go home.”

Prosecution witness Erica Streeter, whose brother Terrence was wounded at the club that night, testified she saw Porter firing repeatedly as he fell to the nightclub floor.

She described his motion as a spin, with his gun hand outstretched in a sweep. He continued shooting as he got back up and fled for the door, she said. She had dropped to the floor, but then got up and went outside, where bystanders said her brother was among those wounded in the nightclub’s parking lot, she testified. A friend then drove her and her brother to the hospital, where police came to question them.

A tense courtroom exchange ensued when Porter’s defense attorney Michael Eddings tried to get Streeter’s arrest record into evidence. He did not have a certified copy, so his exhibit was not admissible, but he kept mentioning it in front the jury until Judge William Rumer ordered, “Don’t do that again!”

Obtaining the proper documentation, Eddings had Streeter admit she was convicted of first-degree forgery in 2011. The lawyer took a confrontational approach to Streeter, accusing her of compulsive lying, and making her admit that though she had claimed she didn’t know Porter’s last name and“never dated him,” the two had sex — but only once, she testified.

Eddings noted also that Streeter said Porter was wearing brown coveralls the night Foster was shot, a description in conflict with other witnesses' accounts.

More courtroom tension followed when Streeter implied that while questioning her before court, Eddings tried to talk her into saying she was too inebriated the night of the shooting to tell what happened. Eddings said he only asked whether she was too intoxicated. Streeter said he did not just ask, he asked her repeatedly.

Another witness Wednesday, police Cpl. Patrick Knight, echoed officers' earlier testimony about witnesses’ refusing to cooperate with investigators.

At the hospital, a victim wounded in the right leg would not answer Knight’s questions and finally turned on a gurney to face the wall with his back to the detective, Knight testified.

Six people besides Foster were wounded in the gunfire that erupted New Year’s Day 2013 inside the packed nightclub. Authorities now are hunting for one of those victims, who earlier this week came to court when subpoenaed, but has not returned.

Truitt and Porter each face two counts of murder, six of aggravated assault and two of using a firearm to commit a crime.

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