Judge gives Club Ciroc guard bond in bar patron's homicide

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comApril 10, 2014 

A judge has set a bond for the Club Ciroc security guard charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a patron ejected from the nightspot on Sept. 14, 2013.

Darren Gray, 24, now has a bond of $100,000 on the murder charge and bonds totaling $17,000 on other charges that include using a gun to commit a crime and lacking the licensing to work as an armed employee, though his defense attorney said he had a permit to carry a gun and had the proper identification to work in a nightclub.

Gray had been jailed without bond since the shooting. He since has been assaulted in the county jail, and that’s one reason he wants to get out, said attorney Robin King, his public defender.

Gray is accused of killing Harry Short Jr., who reportedly caused a ruckus inside the 3433 N. Lumpkin Road nightclub before he was Tased and thrown out. In the parking lot he and Gray had a confrontation, after which Short went to his car, got a gun and came back toward Gray, Gray told police.

“The victim did raise a firearm at me and try to shoot me,” Gray testified in a preliminary hearing.

Gray fired twice, striking Short in the chest. He died at 2:09 a.m.

Though a second gun was found at the scene, witnesses told police they never saw Short with one; they just saw Gray twice shoot at Short.

Short’s family was in the courtroom to protest granting Gray a bond. “He had no weapon on him. He was shot in cold blood,” Short’s father said of his son, later acknowledging he did not witness the shooting.

“He shouldn’t get out and life his life when he took a life,” said another relative, weeping.

A longtime friend of Gray’s said Gray was “well mannered” and conscientious. “I have never seen him commit a violent act,” he said.

King said Gray had been in jail 208 days, and was entitled to a bond. His only prior offense was a burglary with which he was charged as a juvenile at age 14, on April 21, 2005, she said.

Gray did not flee the nightclub the night of the shooting, but stayed to meet police, hand over his gun and tell them what happened, King said. He is from Columbus, has family here and if released from jail, is unlikely to flee justice, she said.

“What he wants to flee is the jail where he’s been beaten,” she added.

When Judge William Rumer asked why the case hadn’t made more progress, King and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cooley said one holdup was a futile effort to get copies of a video shot by local CBS affiliate WRBL. The video includes an interview with a witness no one has been able to locate, they said.

WRBL does not keep such recordings on file, but has a company in Birmingham, Ala., archive them. That company claims it is not the custodian of those records and needn’t respond to a subpoena, the lawyers said.

The company has said it will sell a copy to the prosecution for $95 and to the defense for $65, King said, but her office has no budget for buying videotapes.

Rumer asked whether the public defender’s office had not even $65 with which to buy a recording.

“We do not, you honor,” King answered. “That is the truth.”

Rumer said he would contact the Georgia Public Defenders Council to ask about that.

He allowed Gray, if released on bond, to live with a sister, and ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and observe a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He set a June 17 status conference to update the case’s progress.

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