A text exchange the day Demonde Donya Dicks Jr. was killed at Columbus’ Double Churches Park showed the suspects set Dicks up to be shot execution-style so they could get thousands of dollars from his backpack, a prosecutor said Thursday during bond hearings for two of the three defendants.
Dicks lay dead on the basketball court after the 3 p.m. shooting June 15 at the 2300 Double Churches Road park, which was crowded with children and parents.
During Thursday’s court hearing, Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly recited some of the texts he said police found on the suspects’ cell phones.
That evidence showed Jacquawn Clark set Dicks up, and Derrain Waller fired the fatal shot after getting the OK from Akeveius Powell, who orchestrated the robbery and homicide from his home, Kelly said.
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Reading the texts, Kelly said Waller texted Powell: “This man got 40 bands. He a murder homie, give me the green light.”
Powell replied, “Green light shawty,” Kelly said.
The prosecutor said “40 bands” means $40,000, a “band” being $1,000, the slang derived from a banded wad of cash.
Kelly also recited an exchange between Clark and Waller, with Waller texting, “Let me do him,” and Clark replying, “I’m going to let you. Got to set it up. Have to kill him tho.”
These messages fit the chain of events that led to Dicks’ homicide, Kelly said: Dicks, 24, of Jonesboro, Ga., had family in Columbus, and that day took a shuttle bus to Groome Transportation at 2800 Harley Court, off Fortson Road near its intersection with Double Churches Road.
Clark and Dicks were friends, and spent a couple of hours together before Clark took Dicks to the park to be shot and robbed, Kelly said.
At the park, Waller essentially executed Dicks by shooting him in the back of the head before Waller and Clark grabbed the backpack of cash and fled, Kelly said.
Addressing Superior Court Judge William Rumer as Clark and Powell sought bonds on their murder charges, Kelly noted how busy the park was on an afternoon in June when kids are out of school. The basketball court is near the park’s popular swimming pool.
Firing a gun in such a public place was “putting a lot of people at risk,” the prosecutor said.
Clark’s defense attorney, Jennifer Curry, told Rumer her client voluntarily returned to the park about an hour later to tell police what happened, and that’s what led to his arrest.
“My client is the reason he is standing here today,” she said.
His cooperating with investigators has put him at risk, she added: “He has been a target in the Muscogee County Jail.” She has asked the jail for special protection for him, she said.
Susan Henderson, Powell’s defense attorney, told Rumer her client wasn’t present at the shooting and was a suspect only because of “somewhat cryptic texts.”
Said Henderson: “He was a homebody. He stayed at home all the time.”
Kelly countered that Powell’s texts specifically used the word “murder” and were sent within 10 minutes of the shooting.
Also addressing Rumer was Dicks’ mother, who said Dicks trusted Clark, who betrayed him: “He saw my son receive a bullet to his head, to the back of his head,” she said, of Clark and Waller adding, “They just left him there like he was trash.”
To Clark, she said: “Then you come to the police and tell them half the story.”
Dicks left behind a 10-year-old sister who’s so traumatized she can’t sleep at night, the mother said, of Clark adding, “He will never know what he has done to my family.”
She alleged Powell was a gang leader who would reconnect with his contacts if released from jail.
On each suspect’s murder charge, Rumer set a bond of $1 million. He added $10,000 for Powell, who at the time of Dicks’ homicide was on probation for drug charges.
Dicks’ death came two days before he was scheduled to appear in Muscogee County Superior Court on drug-related charges.
He and three co-defendants, including who his father, Demonde Donya Dicks Sr., were set for a hearing before Judge Frank Jordan Jr.
“We cannot find any correlation at this time,” police Maj. Gil Slouchick said in June when asked whether the drug charges were related to Dicks’ death.
The younger Dicks’ attorney, Stacey Jackson, said he had expected the son to be cleared of the charges against him.
Court records show two of the suspects in the homicide have felony criminal records.
The only Superior Court file on Clark showed an April 26, 2015, misdemeanor simple battery case involving family violence, and it was dismissed. Clark had been accused of punching his child’s mother three times in the face.
Powell’s file showed he was arrested June 6, 2014, for violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act by having Oxycodone, Clonazapam and Tramadol. He was sentenced April 18 to three years’ probation.
Besides some 2013 traffic offenses, Waller was charged May 9, 2012, with aggravated battery and first-degree child cruelty for subjecting a 3-month-old to abusive head trauma that resulted in an irreversible brain injury, according to court documents.
Authorities said the baby was airlifted to the Egleston hospital at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where doctors diagnosed the injury. Waller pleaded guilty Oct. 13, 2015, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 875 days to serve and the rest on probation. He may have been released after getting credit for the time he’d already served.
Waller was not in court Thursday. Kelly said he expects a grand jury to indict the three suspects in December or January.