Man charged in elderly Columbus couple’s random deadly assault could be released on bond

A judge has set bonds for the mentally ill man accused of randomly attacking an elderly Columbus couple in late September – punching the 89-year-old wife unconscious and fatally stabbing her 90-year-old husband before fighting a 69-year-old neighbor outside their Victoria Drive home.

Darius Jamar Travick, 27, is charged with murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the Sept. 24 death of John Dawson, the attack on Dawson’s wife, and the assault on the neighbor.

Police at Travick’s preliminary hearing Sept. 28 said Dawson’s wife told them her husband had come inside after doing yard work that morning and sat down to have a cup of coffee, while she folded sheets in a laundry room off their carport.

When she came back inside, she found a big man with a “crazy look” on his face standing in her kitchen, she told detectives.

“What are you doing in my house?” she asked him. “You need to go!”

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He hit her, and she fell. When she came to, she went through the house looking for her husband, and couldn’t find him, police said.

When officers arresting Travick outside the house heard he had come from the Dawson’s home, one walked over to investigate.

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At a side door, he saw a bloody, broken paring knife. Calling out to anyone inside, he went in and found Dawson dead on the living room floor, stab wounds to his torso and left ear. Hearing a woman call from the rear of the house, the officer discovered Dawson’s wife in a bedroom, apparently in shock: She had a concussion, a black eye and swelling where Travick hit her, police said.

The couple had been married 72 years.

Seeking bond

Because Travick has been jailed 90 days without being indicted, he is entitled to a bond under Georgia law. Deciding the amount of that bond Friday was up to Superior Court Judge Maureen Gottfried.

Defense attorney Stacey Jackson told the judge his client has a well-documented mental health history. Jackson said that on Oct. 31, he requested Travick undergo a psychological evaluation, for which Gottfried signed a court order Nov. 26.

Prosecutors have asked Columbus’ West Central Georgia State Regional Hospital to complete the evaluation in 90 days, but it has yet to be scheduled because the hospital needs some documentation first.

Jackson argued Travick has no previous felony record, and presents no threat to the public as long as he is on medication and monitored. He has relatives who are willing to care for him, including a mother in Fulton County, the attorney said.

Travick’s illness could make him a target, were he to remain in the Muscogee County Jail, where other inmates have been injured in recent assaults and “some very bad things could happen to him,” Jackson said.

How long Travick might remain jailed under an “unreasonable” bond was anyone’s guess, the attorney added, because prosecutors have been slow to present cases to a grand jury for indictment: “As the court is well aware, this has been a problem, to say the least,” he said.

Assistant District Attorney Robin King argued that Travick’s mental condition could spur him on impulse to run away and again threaten the public, were he released from jail. On the morning the Dawsons were attacked, Travick had walked away from a home two blocks away “and at random chose these victims,” she noted.

Travick that day had walked out the back door of his grandmother’s home while wearing only his underwear and a pair of boots. When his mother drove up after Travick’s fight with a neighbor outside the Dawson’s home, he stripped naked before getting into her car, and authorities had to sedate him to take him into custody, King said.

So, Travick’s family already has failed to control him, and because of his condition, he may not grasp the need to make his appointments for the evaluation and to return to court March 5 for a followup hearing, King said.

King wanted Travick’s bonds set at $1 million on the murder charge and $500,000 on each assault count, a total of $2 million. Jackson wanted Travick’s bonds to total $50,000.

Judge Gottfried agreed with King on the nature of Travick’s allegations, saying “the randomness is concerning.” But by law he is entitled to a bond, which she set at $250,000 on the murder charge and $75,000 on each assault count, a total of $400,000.

The judge also ordered Travick to wear an ankle monitor, if released, and to remain under house arrest except to go to court or to doctor’s appointments. He also is to have no contact with the surviving victims, and to stay away from Victoria Drive.