One of the five people shot in the 10th Street shooting that killed a teen was arrested on drug charges after authorities found cocaine and marijuana at the crime scene, according to testimony Friday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
James Maurice Dawson, who was shot multiple times in the Dec. 28 incident, pleaded not guilty to one count each of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, marijuana with the intent to distribute and possession of oxycodone.
Columbus Police Sgt. Mike Dahnke said the homicide division responded to 2914 10 St. on Dec. 28 to investigate after five individuals were shot. They found 19-year-old Jamal Alexander dead behind Apartment C.
Four others who were also shot, including Dawson, were already at Columbus Midtown Medical Center receiving treatment when Dahnke arrived on the scene. They refused to speak with police, according to a news release from Columbus Police Lt. Greg Touchberry.
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They searched the residence that day and determined that the shooting victims were wounded during a gunfight at Apartment C, which is “known to be a distribution house for illegal narcotics.”
In the kitchen, police collected four oxycodone pills, 33.9 grams of cocaine with a street value of $3,300 and 550 grams of marijuana with a street value of $5,500. The marijuana was found in two jars that were dusted for prints, the detective testified.
“Latent prints were discovered and they were compared to and confirmed to be that of the defendant, James Dawson,” Dahnke told the court.
Dahnke said records confirmed that the Georgia Power utility and the lease for that apartment were put in Dawson’s name in early July. He said there is an additional name on the lease, but did not release that name in court.
Police said they have yet to confirm his most recent home address, but he said witnesses spotted all four gunshot wound victims leave Apartment C.
“The occupants of that apartment, with the defendant being one of those occupants, were observed running down the north side of the steps, which led to 10th Street,” Dahnke testified.
Warrants were obtained for Dawson on Jan. 11. Authorities retrieved Dawson’s property from the hospital, and told him he could visit the Columbus Public Safety Center to collect it.
He was taken into custody at police headquarters that same day. When asked if any others are facing drug charges in connection with the incident, Dahnke declined to answer.
Stacey Jackson, who represented Dawson, said his client maintains his innocence.
“No drugs were actually found on Mr. Dawson,” Jackson said. “Then we also believe, in the Georgia law, there is no constructive possession, meaning that he didn’t have custody or control over the narcotics he was charged with. There were other individuals there on the property at different times.”
Judge Michael Joyner found there was enough probable cause to bind the charges over to Superior Court. Jackson asked that the bond be low, stating that his client need to receive more than the Muscogee County Jail’s limited medical care.
“In dealing with his injuries, as I mentioned to the court, there is a level of minimum care that the jail has to maintain for inmates that they housed, but also there is an optimal level of care,” Jackson said. “So we just felt that with Mr. Dawson being incarcerated, he would not receive that optimal care if he were to sit in jail waiting for disposition of his charges.”
Dahnke let the judge know that he would be concerned if the bond was too low, because he doesn’t want the defendant to flee. He said it’s highly likely they will need to question him further as a part of the homicide investigation.
Joyner said he intended on making the bond higher than normal, considering the potential danger Dawson may face. He went on to award the defendant bonds totaling $11,500.
Columbus Police have yet to make an arrest in Alexander’s death.
Before the hearing, Dahnke made a statement before the judge that he would like two individuals in the courtroom whose names “have surfaced” in the10th Street homicide investigation to leave before he presented the hearing. He declined to identify those individuals.
“If they don’t have any business in front of the court this morning, I would like to ask them to leave before I present this case,” Dahnke said.
Jackson reminded the judge that it was open court. He said it was a violation of those individuals’ constitutional rights to force them to leave the hearing. He also mentioned there was a court reporter present gathering the details of the case for public record.