Doubts about prosecution witnesses’ identifying the gunman likely led to Robert Lamar Vaughn’s acquittal Friday in a July 5, 2011, shooting that injured two bystanders playing pool at Victory Drive’s Carousel Lounge, said defense attorney Stacey Jackson.
Jackson said testimony showed one bouncer at the 3003 Victory Drive nightclub thought Vaughn was the shooter, but wasn’t positive. A second club worker identified Vaughn as the gunman, but that witness’ position in relation to the door the gunman stepped through did not provide him a clear line of sight, as evidenced by where police found shell casings from the gun, the attorney said.
“When you look at the shell casings, if the person was standing right inside the door, there’s no way he could have seen clearly who the shooter was,” Jackson said.
Three witnesses for the defense testified Vaughn, who that night was marking his birthday, was outside the club when the shooting occurred about 2 a.m., as customers inside continued to celebrate Independence Day.
The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Michael Craig, said testimony showed Vaughn got into an altercation in the club shortly before the shooting: He bumped into a woman who threw a beer at him, and he threw it back, striking another man.
Soon after that dispute, someone with a .40-caliber handgun stepped into the club and fired four shots. Two bullets burst through a wall, wounding two men who then were ages 24 and 37. Vaughn was 27 then.
Though each was hit in the leg, the victims’ wounds were serious, Craig said: A bullet broke the bone in one man’s leg, requiring two surgeries. The second victim had a bullet lodged in his leg for more than a year, until finally the projectile worked its way to the surface of his skin and fell out, the prosecutor said.
Craig in his closing argument Friday noted the three defense witnesses did not come forward until time for Vaughn’s trial. He accused them of concocting stories to protect Vaughn. “I’ll tell you this: Fairy tales don’t belong in court,” he told the jury.
Jackson defended his witnesses, saying they might have their faults, but people who patronize the Carousel Lounge at 2 a.m. are “probably not going to be deacons of the church.”
Ledger-Enquirer archives show at least seven people have been wounded by gunfire at the Carousel Lounge since 2008, and a 21-year-old Smiths Station, Ala., man died April 1 after being shot twice there. That victim, Marcus King, was the father of twin 4-year-old boys, relatives said. King’s death was Columbus’ sixth homicide this year.
The jury Friday deliberated about an hour before finding Vaughn innocent of two counts of aggravated assault and one of using a firearm to commit a crime.