A driver with the Warrior Cab Company was dropping off two men on Farr Road on Oct. 17 when he was shot and killed on what was supposed to be his day off work, according to testimony Wednesday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Screws of Columbus pleaded not guilty to charges related to the incident, including murder, armed robbery and possession of a fireaerm during the commission of a crime.
Police were still searching for Durden on Wednesday afternoon.
Columbus Police Detective Sgt. Lance Deaton said Chronister was supposed to be off work on Oct. 17, but his company called him early that morning to pick up two individuals at the Mystic Food Mart at 701 Brown Ave.
Officials said it was a woman who called to ask that two individuals be picked up at the store and driven to an Alabama location.
When Chronister arrived, Screws and Durden approached the van and told him they were the people who called him to the food mart, police said. They said they wanted to go to the Parkwood Mobile Home Park at 527 Farr Road.
The cab driver relayed that information to the company dispatch before taking the men to the mobile home park. They directed him to drop them at a dark and secluded cul-de-sac area in the rear of the residential area, according to police.
He parked directly in front of Screws’ former home, Deaton told the court.
“They approached the driver’s side when the window was down, and a shot is fired. Mr. Chronister was struck,” testified Deaton, who said Screws identified Durden as the shooter.
Authorities have yet to clarify the exact time of the shooting but confirmed it happened between 4 and 5:30 a.m. The men stole the victim’s cellphone and wallet and headed to Screws’ home at 2315 Forsyth St., Deaton said.
Shawn Jackson, who lives at Parkwood Mobile Home Park, said he was on his way to work around 5:30 a.m. when he noticed the cab parked behind his vehicle. He went to check on him and noticed he had been shot in the head.
“When we got up and we were getting in the car, he didn’t move the van,” said Jackson, who reported the shooting to police. “When we went to the window to see why he didn’t move the van, he was slumped over in the seat.”
Police were called to the scene to investigate.
Chronister, 50, was transported to Columbus Midtown Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound to the head at 11:05 a.m., confirmed Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.
Police said they have not collected any surveillance video of the shooting, but they do have footage of the cab approaching the mobile home park and the suspects fleeing the area.
They also obtained phone records indicating the robbery was a setup, Deaton testified.
Hart said detectives also learned the suspects were at another location when they called another cab company to pick them up from the food mart. The driver with that company arrived at the store before the suspects did, so he left without them.
Screws and Durden then called the Warrior Cab Company for service, police testified.
The SWAT team took Screws into custody two days later at his home. He gave police a detailed account of the incident and admitted they called the cab driver with the intent to rob him, according to the detective.
“He did also say that he did receive proceeds from some of the items that were taken from Mr. Chronister,” Deaton said.
Represented by Columbus public defender Charles Lykins, Screws didn’t testify in court. He was ordered held in the Muscogee County Jail after being denied bond on the murder charge.
Judge Michael Cielinski ordered the case be bound over to Superior Court.