Two suspects charged in Columbus’ first homicide of 2013 will go to trial Feb. 17, Superior Court Judge William Rumer decided Tuesday.
Rumer set the date as defense attorney Stacey Jackson asked the judge to reduce the bonds for his client Dequandrea Artavas Truitt. Truitt and Shaquille Porter face murder charges in the fatal Jan. 1 shooting of 24-year-old Charles Foster Jr.
Foster was hit in the chest when gunfire erupted around 2:30 that morning at the Majestic Lounge, 2102 Cusseta Road, where five other people were wounded. Foster died later at the hospital.
His death made national news when it was featured in a National Public Radio report on gun violence. The shooting also sparked community outrage and prompted city leaders to investigate reports of other criminal activity at the nightclub.
Authorities found that patrons too young to drink legally had been admitted to the business and that the owner and an employee did not have mandatory alcohol beverage control cards. The violations resulted in the city’s revoking the nightspot’s license.
Truitt, who has been jailed since Jan. 7, was being held on bonds of $350,000 for murder and $25,000 for each of six counts of aggravated assault and two of using a firearm to commit a crime. Jackson said his client could not afford to get out of jail with bonds that high.
He also complained that prosecutors had not taken the case before a grand jury.
He was not alone in feeling the case was moving too slowly: Court records show attorney Michael Eddings, who represents Porter, filed a motion Aug. 14 seeking a speedy trial for his client.
Senior Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore told Rumer the case went to a grand jury Tuesday morning, and both Truitt and Porter were indicted for fatally shooting Foster and for wounding others.
Rumer then set the February trial date, and scheduled a Jan. 6 hearing for attorneys to argue motions. The judge left Truitt’s bond at $350,000 on the murder charge, but reduced bonds to $15,000 on each of his aggravated assault counts and $3.000 on each weapons charge.
For Foster’s homicide, the indictment charges Truitt and Porter with malice murder, meaning they killed him “with malice aforethought,” and with felony murder for causing his death while committing a felony, in this case aggravated assault.
Also the two were indicted on six counts of aggravated assault for shooting Foster and five others, and with two counts of using a firearm to commit a crime.