Accused Labor Day killer pleads not guilty, bound over

The teenager accused in the Labor Day slaying of another teen pleaded not guilty in Columbus Recorder’s Court this morning and was bound over to Superior Court with no bond.

Tray Thomas, 18, a suspect in the killing of Gerald Dewayne Hatchett, also 18, who was gunned down in front of 1519 25th St. in East Highland.

Thomas is charged with murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and aggravated assault.

Detectives have said when Thomas shot Hatchett, he was intending to hit Jessie Favors, 17, who that night had just gotten out of a Honda Civic he said he had volunteered to return to its owner after the car had been traded for crack cocaine.

Favors had been among those in front of 1519 25th St. when a man identified only as “T.J.” drove up in the Civic and asked whether someone there would return it, Favors testified earlier in Recorder’s Court. He said he volunteered, and drove off in the car.

He dropped a passenger off on 27th Street and was returning to the 25th Street residence when he passed the dark SUV at 16th Avenue and 28th Street, he said. The SUV made a U-turn and followed him, and when he got out of the Civic on 25th Street, the SUV, occupied by three people, stopped there, he said.

Favors and the SUV’s occupants exchanged taunts, and someone in the SUV said, “Get him, bro,” detectives said. Then a backseat passenger armed with a 9mm pistol fired four or five shots at Favors, who ran behind a house and was unharmed. Hatchett, however, was hit and killed as he tried to escape.

Favors then drove Civic to 26th Street and 15th Avenue and parked, and returned to the scene. He left when police arrived, knowing there were outstanding warrants for his arrest.

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Reporter Alan Riquelmy contributed to the story.