The October 2009 shooting death of Jilani Platt had been “eating” at her brother for more than a year.
Tuesday morning, when 30-year-old Jeryl Carter saw the man accused of killing his sister -- her husband 33-year-old Zyderrious Platt -- enter a Muscogee County Superior Court, those feelings boiled over.
Carter leaped over the railing in Judge Bobby Peters’ courtroom and rushed Platt, who quickly stood and backed away as deputies moved in.
“For the last year, it’s been on my mind,” Carter said after returning to his Columbus home late Tuesday afternoon. “It’s been eating at me. To see him come out and see him sit in the courtroom like he was going to watch his favorite TV show ... he didn’t give a damn what he did. It kind of irked me. It kind of got to me.”
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Platt reacted by grabbing a wooden chair in what appeared to be an attempt to fend off Carter, who grabbed the chair and threw it at Platt. The chair fell to the floor.
No one was injured in the incident, and Peters decided that Carter will not be charged, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Maj. Randy Robertson said.
“I’ll kill him; I’ll kill him,” Carter yelled as he was being subdued by deputies. “My sister didn’t deserve that s---. ... I am going to kill him. Please let me kill him.”
Carter focused on the smirk he said Platt had on his face.
“A lot of rage and anger came out of me,” Carter said. “I can’t get it out of my mind. I can’t get over it.”
Platt was accused of killing his 10-week pregnant wife, Jilani Platt, 26, in October 2009. He faces charges of murder, feticide, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The trial started after an hour delay and will continue today.
Carter said he held no ill will toward the deputies who tackled him to the floor and handcuffed him.
“It would make me feel a lot better if he wasn’t alive,” Carter said. “If I could have just gotten my hands on him. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m not no evil person to wake up that mad every day. It’s not normal. It’s not natural.”
Deputy reacts to incident
Deputy Charles Nathan, a 23½-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, had just left the jury room and was walking toward Platt when the disturbance began.
“I heard a noise and I turned and I saw one of the family members coming over the rail,” Nathan said. “I’m trying to figure out what was going on. When he went over the rail, I knew what was going to happen.”
Nathan said he deflected the chair to the floor when Carter threw it at Platt.
Other deputies rushed Carter, and Nathan lost his footing for a second before he righted himself and grabbed Carter’s legs. Another deputy had Carter by the torso and both deputies took him to the floor.
Nathan helped hold Carter to the floor until he was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom.
“When I heard him say, ‘My sister,’ I understood what he was doing,” Nathan said. “He’s got his own ideas, and we’re there to prevent him from doing what he was doing.”
Robertson said Carter was held in a room in the Government Center most of the day. A deputy drove Carter home just before 5 p.m.
Carter was not handcuffed in the room and no one was there with him, though he was being monitored, Robertson said.
Peters was on the bench at the time of the attack. The judge left the courtroom and then returned, walking to the railing to pick up a shoe and umbrella near where the attack started.
When Carter was taken home, he only wore one shoe.
The jury was not seated and court officials were waiting for the jurors at the time of the attack. The start of the trial was delayed, though the attorneys gave their opening statements and witnesses began testifying before lunch.
Carter’s sister was three years his junior. They grew up together with their brother, Phillip.
“She was good at school and stuff like that,” Carter said. “She used to love to help other little girls. She was thinking about going to science school, but she stopped it and decided to have a family.”
Carter’s sister and Zyderrious Platt had known each other for about five months before they eloped.
They lived with her mother for a while before moving to their Crystal Drive home. They were married about 18 months, Carter said.
One day, Carter said, he saw what he called a “scar” on his sister’s face. He asked where she got it, and she told him she and her husband had been fighting.
Carter went to Zyderrious Platt’s home and waited for him to arrive. Carter said nothing to him when he did.
“The moment I seen him, I dove in his ass,” Carter said. “I beat him until he gave up. There was no need to talk to him. Talking to him wouldn’t have did no good.”
Jilani Platt was scheduled to pick up her nephew for a youth football game on the day she went missing. Carter said his family knew something was wrong when she failed to show up.
“He said some mess like she just walked out the door,” Carter added. “She started to realize that he wasn’t the man you could build a family with. I think she realized there was no saving the relationship and she was ready to end it.”
The trial resumed after an hour delay.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Craig began his opening statement by telling jurors about Jilani Platt, whose maiden name was King.
Once a student of Shaw High School, she cared for hospice patients and taught biology. She was preparing to take a test to become a pharmacist.
“She was going places,” Craig said. “She had big dreams, big plans. On Oct. 3, 2009, her dreams, her hopes, her life came to a grinding halt.”
Craig said that Jilani Platt met with a friend around 10 p.m. Oct. 2. They dropped off Jilani Platt’s nephew at his house, and she told him she’d pick him up the next day for a youth football game.
Jilani Platt and her friend then went to T.G.I. Friday’s. While there, Jilani Platt and her husband argued about the rent by text message, police have said.
Platt and her friend returned to the Platts’ Crystal Drive home around midnight. A neighbor of the Platts heard loud noises coming from their apartment, Craig said.
“What was his statement?” Craig asked jurors. “Well, ‘She was emotional. She was pregnant.’ She had come home and they had argued about rent.”
Zyderrious Platt told police that he’d left their apartment and that she was gone when he returned, though her car was still there.
Police began a missing person case, going door to door asking questions. They learned about the commotion coming from the Platts’ home the night before.
Officers then spotted Zyderrious Platt, who’d become uncooperative, carrying a white trash bag behind his apartment to a Dumpster, Craig said.
“The item it turns out he was trying to dump was a 9 mm handgun,” the prosecutor added.
Zyderrious Platt was arrested on a weapons charge, and officers searched his home. In a chest of drawers, hidden under some clothes, they found Jilani Platt’s ID, wallet and car keys, Craig said.
Two days later, Zyderrious Platt took officers to a spot about 300 feet north of Cargo Drive in a retention pond next to Schatulga Road, Craig and police said.
Zyderrious Platt told officers that he hurt his wife “too much.” They’d had an argument at the top of the stairs over rent. Jilani Platt pushed him, and he started choking her until she fell, Craig said.
He left to buy Black & Mild cigars, and when he returned his wife was lying at the foot of the stairs.
“He stated he heard her taking what he described as her last breath at that time,” Craig said.
Zyderrious Platt then went outside to smoke. When he stepped back inside, he wrapped his wife in a comforter. He put her in a car and drove her to the retention pond, placing a cinder block on the comforter so she wouldn’t roll away, Craig said.
“He made the decision to take a loaded gun,” the prosecutor said. “He then admits to law enforcement, ‘I shot her in the head.’”
The next day, Zyderrious Platt returned to look for spent shells.
An officer found a 9 mm projectile near Jilani Platt, and a ballistics expert matched it to the gun Zyderrious Platt tried to dispose in the Dumpster, Craig said.
“Jilani King died of one thing -- a gunshot wound to the head,” Craig said. “End of story.”
Columbus Public Defender Robert Wadkins said that because of the way the indictment is written, prosecutors must prove that Jilani Platt was killed by a gun.
“What it boils down to is, if you find that he killed her in another way, you can’t convict him,” Wadkins said. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the law.”
Wadkins said his client’s defense is simple: Jilani Platt died by a method other than gunshot. Prosecutors, he said, will call a doctor to testify that she died from a gunshot wound, “but we don’t know how she really died.”
“Our defense is, simply, this man with bad, bad judgment, who is not very bright, made a bad mistake when he found his wife,” Wadkins said. “It could have happened the way he said it happened.”