Jurors in next week’s murder trial of three men charged in the June 15, 2016, fatal shooting of Demonde Donya Dicks Jr. at Columbus’ Double Churches Road Park will not hear one suspect’s recorded statements to police.
That statement came from Jacquawn Clark, who volunteered to talk to investigators after Dicks was shot in the back of the head at the 2300 Double Churches Road park, which was crowded with children and parents.
During a pretrial motions hearing Thursday, police Sgt. Wendy Holland testified she did not believe the accounts Clark gave of what happened that day. Clark’s attorney, Jennifer Curry, asked Judge William Rumer to suppress the statement, saying prosecutors would use it only to show her client was lying, which would just prejudice the jury against him.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly said the recorded interview included some statements that would be inadmissible, such as Clark’s identifying codefendant Derain Waller as the triggerman who shot Dicks from behind to steal thousands of dollars he thought Dicks had in a backpack.
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Kelly said allowing evidence of Clark’s identifying Waller would be a constitutional violation, as Clark is not expected to take the witness stand, and Waller has a Sixth Amendment right to confront and question his accuser.
Kelly said he instead would condense Clark’s statement to a set of “bullet points” regarding Clark’s movements that day.
The trial is set to start Monday in Rumer’s Government Center courtroom.
Prosecutor: Texts show set-up
During a bond hearing for the suspects on Oct. 20, 2016, Kelly told Rumer detectives found text messages on the suspects’ phones that showed Clark set Dicks up to be robbed, and a third codefendant, A’keveius Powell, OK’d the execution-style killing in messages he sent from his home.
Dicks, 24, of Jonesboro, Ga., had family in Columbus, and had taken a shuttle bus to Groome Transportation at 2800 Harley Court, off Fortson Road, where Clark picked him up. The pair spent a couple of hours together before Clark took Dicks to the park, Kelly said.
Kelly read some of the messages aloud during last year’s hearing.
He 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.
Kelly 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.”
That led to Waller’s ambushing Dicks at the basketball court about 3 p.m. that Wednesday, when the park’s popular swimming pool was particularly busy, as children were out of school for the summer. Waller and Clark afterward grabbed Dicks’ backpack and fled.
Dicks’ death came two days before he was scheduled to appear in Muscogee County Superior Court on drug charges.
He and three co-defendants, including his father, Demonde Donya Dicks Sr., were set for a hearing before Judge Frank Jordan Jr. Police said they found no evidence the drug case and homicide were related.
In her testimony Thursday, Holland said Clark came to the park with his mother after the shooting and told her he had information on it. He was questioned at police headquarters that day and again on June 17, 2016, when he was arrested, the police sergeant said.
Clark is charged with murder and armed robbery; Waller with murder, armed robbery, using a firearm to commit a crime and being a convicted felon with a gun; and A’keveius Powell with murder, armed robbery and criminal gang activity.