Justice in the 2012 homicide of Columbus barber Charlie Artis has been delayed.
By a stomach virus.
Opening statements in the murder case against Edward Lee and Dontevious Doleman were set for Wednesday morning, but prosecutors sought a delay because Assistant District Attorney Wesley Lambertus was too ill to continue.
Lambertus told Judge Arthur Smith III that he still had not recovered from the intestinal bug he caught earlier this week. Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly was able to complete the jury selection without Lambertus, but said he did not know enough about the case to pursue it himself, as Lambertus is the lead prosecutor.
Defense attorneys Jennifer Curry and Will Kirby tried to persuade Smith to stay on schedule, noting their clients have been jailed four years awaiting trial. Curry represents Lee, and Kirby’s client is Doleman.
Smith said he did see how he could compel the prosecution to continue with Lambertus in such poor health. He reset the trial for May 9.
Investigators allege Lee used a .38-caliber revolver to shoot Artis in the left side during a robbery Jan. 5, 2012, at Charlie’s Barber Shop on Gunboat Drive off Milgen Road.
A third suspect, Demetrice Octavion Scott, pleaded guilty Feb. 15 while agreeing to testify for the prosecution. Authorities have recommended he serve 30 years in prison with life on probation if he testifies as promised.
Police said the barber shop homicide was among a string of crimes in which the suspects operated either in pairs or a three-man team. Authorities allege the defendants also committed these offenses:
- A Dec. 15, 2011, armed robbery in which Scott and Doleman took a woman’s Kia Sport.
- A second Dec. 15, 2011, armed robbery in which all three suspects took a woman’s Lexus.
- A Dec. 20, 2011, attempted robbery and shooting at Hometown Grocery, 1159 27th St., where Lee and Scott shot twice at a 47-year-old man leaving the store, damaging a 2008 Honda Odyssey.
- A Dec. 21, 2011, burglary at a 19th Street apartment, where Scott and Doleman took a TV, prescription drugs and the keys to a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox that was stolen six days later.
- A Jan. 6, 2012, break-in at a 14th Street residence where they took $6,000 worth of goods.
- A Jan. 11, 2012, burglary in which the three broke into a home in the 2300 block of 14th Avenue.
- A Jan. 15, 2012, break-in at a 23rd Street home, where Scott raped the woman living there as the three took $1,000 worth of loot along with the woman’s 2006 Chevrolet Aveo.
Besides murder, court records show Lee, 23, faces three counts each of aggravated assault and using a firearm to commit a crime, two counts of burglary and one count each of attempted robbery and theft.
Doleman’s charges besides murder are three counts each of armed robbery and burglary and one count each of auto theft and theft by taking, court documents show. He is 24 years old.
Attorneys said Scott, 23, pleaded guilty to three counts each of aggravated assault, armed robbery and burglary, four counts of using a firearm to commit a felony, and one count each of rape, attempt to commit a felony, felony theft and misdemeanor theft.