The jury in the murder case against Ron Blair heard Wednesday from a witness who said victim Keon Coleman also was armed with a handgun the night he was shot in the head at 12th Street and Broadway in Columbus.
Joseph James "JJ" Coleman, who is not related to the victim, told the court he could see the butt of a pistol at Keon Coleman's waistline, and the Phenix City teen kept his hand on the weapon while he and Blair argued.
That conflict ended when Blair abruptly dashed his red plastic cup of Jägermeister in Keon Coleman's face with one hand while raising a two-shot .32-caliber Derringer in his other hand and shooting Keon Coleman in the head, JJ Coleman said.
As the wounded man fell, a companion JJ Coleman identified only as Keon Coleman's "buddy in dreads" took the gun from his friend's waistline, hid it in nearby shrubs and then returned, crying "My homey! My homey!"
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Hours later, police found a gun beneath shrubbery just feet away from the crime scene. Police Cpl. David Pierson testified Wednesday that he collected the weapon, a .40-caliber Taurus pistol that had a loaded clip but no round in its firing chamber.
Pierson said detectives summoned him to get the gun sometime after 7 a.m. March 25, 2012, about six hours after the shooting.
Other witnesses have identified Keon Coleman's friend with dreadlocks as Terrell "Bell" Bellamy, who on the witness stand Wednesday denied Keon Coleman had a gun he hid after the shooting.
The shooting occurred during a confrontation sparked by JJ Coleman's standing atop a metal bench in front of the CB&T bank on the southeast corner of Broadway and 12th Street and repeatedly singing the rap lyric, "If that's your hoe, that's my hoe, too," as a group of young women crossed the street.
The women were Keon Coleman's friends, and he heard the song from where he and Bellamy stood on the northeast corner. He challenged JJ Coleman's intent, prompting JJ Coleman and Blair to cross 12th Street north to confront Keon Coleman and Bellamy.
Bellamy testified Blair showed everyone a gun at his waist as he crossed the street and announced, "We're strapped," or armed.
Bellamy and JJ Coleman testified that the two of them spoke briefly, diffused any differences they had and "dapped" or touched hands. But as they talked, Keon Coleman and Blair had a heated exchange in a face-off.
JJ Coleman said he saw Blair throw his Jägermeister in Keon Coleman's face, prompting Keon Coleman to turn aside as Blair raised the Derringer and fired. He said Keon Coleman never pulled the gun from his pants.
JJ Coleman was stunned, he said: "I'm like, 'What the heck just happened?' It seemed like everything happened at the same time."
Blair fled immediately, he said. As his shock subsided, JJ Coleman decided to leave, too. He said he crossed from the intersection's northeast corner to its southwest, where Blair came by in a car and said, "Get in."
Blair drove down Broadway, turned west to the Dillingham Street bridge, crossed into Phenix City and went south on Seale Road.
"He was still like in another world," JJ Coleman said of Blair, who he said told him, "I should kill you." He managed to placate and persuade Blair to drop him at a friend's house in Phenix City, he said.
Police found the Taurus pistol in the shrubs sometime after 7 a.m., and they arrested Blair around 11 a.m. that day when he returned to Broadway, where he was leasing space for a nightclub he had not yet opened. Detectives said Blair ran when they showed up, but they caught him about a block away.
On April 9, 2012, a downtown worker doing maintenance behind the Cuckoo's Nest Skate Shop, 1250-B Broadway, found a .32-caliber Derringer in the same area to which Blair had run from police, officers said. They said a ballistics test showed it was the same gun used to shoot Coleman.
An officer in the police department's property and evidence division testified Wednesday that neither gun had fingerprints on it. The Taurus was not tested for DNA evidence that might link it to Keon Coleman.
The Derringer has been linked to Blair because his ex-girlfriend reported to police in 2011 that he had borrowed her Derringer and never returned it. The pistol police found behind the skate shop had a serial number matching her missing gun.
Defense attorneys maintain Blair acted in self-defense because Keon Coleman threatened him with the pistol police later found in the shrubs.