Suspects in Deonn Carter murder plead not guilty
The last two of the five suspects charged in the Aug. 9 shooting of Deonn Carter pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Quamaine Thomas and Tauron Stepney, both 18, are being held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond on one count each of murder. The case was bound over to Superior Court.
Others charged in the beloved autistic man’s death are Travarus Thomas, 20, Dequoyae Devon Waldon, 22, and Tyquez Davis, 18. They are also jailed without bond after pleading not guilty to murder during a Sept. 1 hearing.
Police said there will be additional charges filed in the case but declined to provide details.
Carter, a 31-year-old autistic man, was shot during an armed robbery at the Britt David apartment complex on 5443 Armour Road. He died 11 days later from complications from the gunshot wound in his left leg. A blood clot developed on Aug. 20 while Carter was treated in the intensive care unit at Midtown Medical Center.
Carter was beloved by local police and firefighters who shopped at the Piggly Wiggly on River Road where he was a bagger.
Before his death, Carter told police that he was robbed and shot by a black man who left in a Nissan truck with other black men. Authorities haven’t stated who was identified as the shooter.
During their investigation, officials determined that the vehicle was stolen. It was abandoned when authorities located it at a recreation center near Carver High School, Middlebrooks testified.
Officials said they haven’t located any weapon, but a .38-caliber round was found in Carter’s leg.
Detective Darrell Middlebrooks told the court that there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, but they have physical evidence and verbal statements indicating that all five co-defendants are involved.
Davis was being held in the Muscogee County Jail on unrelated burglary charges when he agreed to speak with authorities on Aug. 20 about the fatal shooting. He initially denied being at the crime scene but later admitted to being there with three other individuals, Middlebrooks testified.
Davis allegedly told police that he was involved but stayed inside the vehicle during the incident.
Taken into custody on Aug. 25, Travarus Thomas also told police he was at the scene with at least two other individuals at the time of the shooting, Middlebrooks said. Police confirmed that there is also physical evidence linking him to the crime but didn’t elaborate further.
“(Travarus D. Thomas) said they were out riding around and they came across Deonn Carter and decided to rob him,” Middlebrooks testified in the Sept. 1 hearing. “He’s putting it on someone else, but he was definitely there for sure.”
Officials said both suspects identified Waldon as one of the individuals who was on the scene with them, but Waldon hasn’t given a statement to detectives since he was arrested on Aug. 26.
Middlebrooks told the court Thursday that Quamaine Thomas, who was arrested Sept. 1, admitted to being at the scene of the shooting with other suspects, including Stepney.
Stepney, who was represented by attorney Robert Jones, declined to speak with police.
After court, Jones said his client is maintaining his innocence.
“It’s always a tragedy when someone who’s not living a thug life is just taken down by other individuals,” Jones said. “The truth will sooner or later come out on who the individuals were.”
Mark Shelnutt, who represented Quamaine Thomas, said the shooting was a terrible and unfortunate incident that his client had nothing to do with.
“At this point, we need to wait until we have all the information,” Shelnutt said after noting that police didn’t provide a lot of details during the preliminary hearing. “That will come out through the discovery process, so we don’t want to prejudge.”