The two suspects charged in the 2016 shooting on Farr Road where a cab driver was killed were seen getting into the cab before the incident, according to testimony Wednesday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Devin Durden, 22, pleaded not guilty to murder in the Oct. 17 shooting. He was ordered held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
Durden’s plea comes more than a month after 21-year-old Jasmine Thomas pleaded not on Aug. 3 guilty to a murder in the shooting that left Dewayne Chronister dead. She shares a child with 21-year-old Dontavis Paige Screws, who is also a murder suspect in the case.
Columbus Police Sgt. Lance Deaton said Chronister was supposed to be off work on Oct. 17, but the Warrior Cab Company called him early that morning to pick up two individuals at the Mystic Food Mart at 701 Brown Ave.
Phone records indicate Thomas was the person who made the request for pick up. She allegedly asked that a cab driver transport Screws and Durden to an Alabama location knowing that the men would rob the cab driver, Deaton said.
When Chronister arrived, Screws and Durden allegedly approached the van and said they called him to the food mart. They said they wanted to go to the Parkwood Mobile Home Park at 527 Farr Road, Deaton told the court.
Officials said surveillance video shows the suspects getting into the vehicle.
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 was fired. Mr. Chronister was struck,” said Deaton, who stated that Screws identified Durden as the shooter.
Authorities have yet to give 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 the 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 was arrested in Alabama on probation violation charges weeks after the homicide. He was extradited to Columbus on Tuesday after serving 11 months in prison.
Deaton said they found shoes in Durden’s possession that matched the shoes of the man seen getting into the cab before the shooting.
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. Aug. 1 at the Farley Homes apartment complex on Nina Street.