Shell casings from Club Majestic and a victim's statement led to the identification of a suspect in the New Year's Day shooting at 2102 Cusseta Road, a Columbus police detective testified Tuesday in Columbus Recorder's Court.
Dequandrea Truitt, 21, is charged with murder in the death of 24-year-old Charles Foster Jr. inside the club and aggravated assault in the shooting of a man outside the business after gunfire erupted about 2:30 a.m. Jan. 1. Truitt also faces two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. In addition to Foster's death and the shooting outside, five people were treated for gunshot wounds from bullets fired inside the nightclub.
Represented by attorney Stacey Jackson, Truitt pleaded not guilty to all the charges and didn't testify. Judge Michael Cielinski ordered Truitt held without bond on the murder charge and set bonds totaling more than $75,000 on the other counts.
Police detective Katina Williams told the court Truitt was inside the club before the shooting started, and a witness told investigators he was seen shooting in the parking lot. Tests from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab show the casings seized by police inside the club and outside came from the same weapon. Police have not recovered a gun in the shooting.
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When Jackson asked Williams if police knew the caliber of the weapon, she couldn't recall the caliber.
Truitt was linked as a suspect in the shooting on Jan. 2. With his attorney by his side, Truitt surrendered to police about 11:20 p.m. Sunday at the Huddle House on Victory Drive.
After Truitt's arrest, Williams said he admitted to taking part in the shooting in a statement to a patrol officer. "I didn't murder anybody," Williams said he told the officer. "I did do some shooting outside in the parking lot."
If that statement was made, Jackson said it violated Truitt's rights because the attorney already had directed police not to question the suspect.
Police didn't have a witness to state Truitt was seen shooting at Foster.
"There is no eye witness that identifies Mr. Truitt as shooting the person that was killed," Jackson said. "That is a crucial question that was answered today."
Truitt's girlfriend, Bianca Fuller, said she and Truitt left the nightclub together and walked to a friend's house in Elizabeth Canty Apartments that morning. She didn't see him with a gun or take part in shooting. Fuller couldn't get into her car because the keys had been locked inside.
LaRae Dixon Moore, an assistant district attorney, questioned Fuller about going to the club's parking lot on Jan. 2 and getting help from police to recover her car keys. "You didn't bother to tell police what happened," Moore asked?
At least four other women, including Truitt's sister, testified to being inside the club on New Year's Day, but none saw him with a gun.
After the hearing, Truitt's mother, Jennifer Truitt, stood outside the court building and said her son was the victim in a Phenix City shooting a month ago.
The blast from a shotgun has left him unable to use his right hand.
"My son is still suffering," she said. "He is not a killer."
Police said a investigation is still under way to find a second suspect.