A woman told authorities she didn’t know a cab driver would be killed when she she lured him into the Oct. 17 armed robbery on Farr Road, according to testimony Thursday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Jasmine Thomas, who is the mother to a co-defendant’s child, pleaded not guilty to murder and armed robbery. She was ordered held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
Columbus Police Sgt. Lance Deaton said Dewayne Chronister was supposed to be off work on Oct. 17, but the cab company called him early that morning to pick up two individuals at the Mystic Food Mart at 701 Brown Ave.
Phone records indicate that Thomas was the person who made the request for pick up. She allegedly asked that a cab driver transport Dontavis Paige Screws, 21, and Devin Trashawn Durden, 22, to an Alabama location knowing that the men would rob the cab driver, Deaton testified.
Thomas is the mother of Screws’ child, said Attorney Alfonza Whitaker, Thomas’ defense attorney.
When Chronister arrived, Screws and Durden approached the van and said they called him to the food mart, police said. They said they wanted to go to the Parkwood Mobile Home Park at 527 Farr Road, Deaton told the court.
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 off at a dark and secluded cul-de-sac area behind the residential area, according to police.
He parked directly in front of Screws’ former home, Deaton said.
“They approached the driver’s side when the window was down, and a shot is fired. Mr. Chronister was struck,” said Deaton, who stated that Screws identified Durden as the shooter.
Authorities have yet to clarify the exact time of the shooting but stated that it happened between 4 and 5:30 a.m. The men allegedly stole the victim’s cellphone and wallet before heading to Screws’ home at 2315 Forsyth St.
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 the driver and saw that 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.”
Chronister, 50, was transported to Columbus Midtown Medical Center, where officials said he was pronounced dead at 11:05 a.m.
Screws was taken into custody two days after the shooting. Duren is in custody in an Alabama prison after being convicted of unrelated charges. He will be extradited to Columbus after he has served his sentence.
Officials said Thomas was interviewed by police around the time that Screws was arrested. She allegedly told police that she called the cab company knowing that they would rob the cab driver.
“She claims that she didn’t know anything about the shooting,” Deaton testified. “She didn’t know they were going to hurt him, but she did say that she knew that they were going to commit an armed robbery against whatever cab driver showed up.”
Police later issued arrest warrants for Thomas, who was taken into custody at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Farley Homes apartment complex on Nina Street.
Whitaker said Screws influenced her to set up the armed robbery. He said she sees the error of her ways and is cooperating with police.
“I think she was a victim of circumstance in that the father of her baby had influence over her,” Whitaker said. “He exerted that influence and required her to do something she really knew that she shouldn’t have done and that she really regrets.”