Murder trial: Dequandrea Truitt insists he didn't fire shots in club

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 26, 2014 

During more than four hours of testimony on Wednesday, Dequandrea Truitt insisted that he did not fire a gun in the chaotic Majestic Sports Bar shooting that left Charles Foster Jr. dead on New Year’s Day 2013.

While denying that he fired shots that night, Truitt also accused many of those who testified in Muscogee County Superior Court against him — from a Columbus police officer Truitt knew to the girlfriend of the victim — of lying during their testimony.

Truitt, 22, and Shaquille Porter, now 20, each face two counts of murder, seven of aggravated assault and two of using firearms to commit a felony in the shooting at the popular south Columbus club that was filled to capacity with underage patrons.

Porter’s defense concluded its case after he did not testify.

Defense attorney Stacey Jackson first questioned Truitt on Wednesday, asking if he ever fired a weapon in the club.

“No, sir,” Truitt responded.

Jackson then asked if he ever fired a gun that day.

“No, sir,” Truitt responded again.

Then Senior Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore went to work poking holes in Truitt’s account of the shooting and his nearly six days on the run before surrendering to Columbus police.

Jackson asked the same questions of Truitt, and got the same answers.

“I feel like he came across as truthful and told the jury all of the circumstances,” Jackson said after the day’s testimony. “He answered all of Mrs. Moore’s questions respectfully.”

Asked after the proceedings if Truitt was telling the truth on the stand, Moore said, “Absolutely not.”

Truitt, who has sat at the defense table the entire trial and heard all of the testimony, told the court that at least three other witnesses told lies about him. He testified that Phenix City Parks and Recreation employee Albert Lee Evans and a

Phenix City police detective lied under oath about an unrelated November 2012 fight Truitt had at Spencer Recreation Center with Damion Dickerson. Truitt was shot in the arm during that altercation.

Truitt also testified that Foster’s girlfriend, LaQuoia Arnold, who said Truitt had a gun as he left the nightclub during the shooting, also lied.

During Jackson’s questioning of Truitt, Moore regularly objected to Jackson asking leading questions. At one point early in the testimony, Jackson was admonished by Judge William Rumer for leading the witness.

When it came Moore’s turn to question Truitt, she objected to him answering a question then continuing with an explanation of the answer.

After the day’s proceedings, Moore said the way Truitt answered the questions is a indication of the truthfulness of his answers.

“When you have elaborate answers for everything — meaning the more they talk — they are trying to think of what they are going to say,” Moore said.

During Moore’s questioning, Jackson asked that the jury be dismissed. Jackson then asked the judge to declare a mistrial based on a question Moore asked Truitt about being in “hiding” after the shooting, but before he turned himself in to Columbus police on Jan. 6. 2013.

Moore defended her question by saying Truitt testified earlier that he did not check his Facebook page from his cellphone because police could track him.

Rumer denied the motion for mistrial.

Truitt testified, under the prosecutor’s questioning, that he learned late on the afternoon of the shooting that police wanted to talk to him and found out on Jan. 3, 2013, that he was a suspect. At that point he fled to Tennessee with a friend and the friend’s girlfriend.

Truitt was vague about where he went, at first not giving a location, then finally saying Tennessee.

“I am guessing somewhere near Chattanooga,” Truitt said when Moore pressed him. “It was an eight-hour drive.”

Truitt also testified that he cut his hair between the night of the shooting and the time he turned himself in.

“You didn’t want police to find you, right?” Moore asked of the reason for cutting the hair.

“Yes,” Truitt answered.

Truitt’s surrender was a point of contention during Moore’s questioning.

While he was out of state, Truitt’s mother spoke with, then hired Jackson as his attorney. Truitt testified the reason for delaying his surrender was to give his mother time to raise the money to pay Jackson’s fee.

Pruitt testified that he returned to Columbus, met with Jackson and turned himself in to a Columbus police detective at a Huddle House restaurant.

Another Columbus police officer, Joseph Jackson, testified earlier in the trial that he spoke with Truitt about turning himself in. Truitt, during his testimony, denied that.

Truitt knew Joseph Jackson because he patrolled the south Columbus apartment complex where Truitt and his mother had lived.

Truitt testified that Latoria Myers, a friend of his mother’s, reached out to Joseph Jackson to help arrange the surrender.

Truitt, and later Myers, testified that there was a plan for Myers to get a $1,000 reward for his surrender. Myers would split the money with officer Joseph Jackson, she testified.

“He said we would both get paid,” Myers told the court.

When detectives took Truitt to the jail, Joseph Jackson met the car, Truitt testified. Truitt said Joseph Jackson asked why he turned himself in through attorney Stacey Jackson.

Moore took her shots at the story.

“You are telling this court that officer Jackson could have gotten award money for you turning yourself in?” Moore asked. Truitt responded, “Yes.”

Myers testified that Joseph Jackson said he would give her $50 gas money to get Truitt back from Tennessee. Joseph Jackson called Truitt shortly after his surrender, Myers testified.

“He said, ‘Oh, you did it like that,’” Myers testified.

Moore said that Tuesday was the first time the prosecution had heard of an alleged plan for a Columbus police officer and Myers to split reward money. She discounted the truthfulness of the story.

Also on Wednesday, four Muscogee County Jail inmates testified for the prosecution disputing Tuesday testimony from other jail inmates that Arnold, the victim’s girlfriend, admitted to lying in her testimony last week.

Arnold, who is being held in the jail on in unrelated case, testified Feb. 19 and 20. On the last day of her testimony, coverage of the trial was on a television in the jail dorm where Arnold and about 30 other inmates were housed. Inmates Felicia Mercer, Lavonya Daniel and Maria Stanford all testified that Arnold bragged about lying on the witness stand and said she was too high on marijuana to have known what happened in the Majestic Sports Bar that night.

Ivy Curry, a inmate who is Arnold’s jail girlfriend, defended her friend.

“She said Stacey did not catch her in a lie because she was telling the truth,” Curry said.

The ninth day of the trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today.

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