Crime

Victim in hospital tells 5 people who shot him before he dies, Columbus police say

Suspect in murder of Ronnie Brooks Jr. makes first appearance in Recorder’s Court

Michael Garner, defense attorney representing Kevon Carter, discusses the case and the Columbus Recorder's Court hearing which took place on Friday morning, March 1, 2019, in Columbus, Ga. Carter is charged with the murder of Ronnie Brooks Jr.
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Michael Garner, defense attorney representing Kevon Carter, discusses the case and the Columbus Recorder's Court hearing which took place on Friday morning, March 1, 2019, in Columbus, Ga. Carter is charged with the murder of Ronnie Brooks Jr.

With a gunshot wound to the left side of his neck, Ronnie Brooks Jr. lingered in intensive care for a week before he died in the hospital at 1:40 p.m. Feb. 15.

But for those seven days after he was shot on the afternoon of Feb. 8, he remained conscious and alert at Piedmont Columbus Regional, and he told five different people that Kevon Carter was the man who shot him, Detective Matt Sitler testified Friday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

“He spoke to each of the five individuals,” Sitler told Judge Julius Hunter, so the victim didn’t make just a single statement to a group gathered around his hospital bed.

Carter, 26, already was jailed for armed robbery when police charged him with Brooks’ slaying, the officer said.

Investigators found evidence Brooks, 26, was shot at a residence at 615 Parkchester Drive, before someone drove him to the hospital around 3:30 p.m. that day, Sitler told Hunter.

And that’s about all the detective told the court.

Defense attorney Michael Garner asked what evidence police found on Parkchester Drive.

“I’m not going to disclose that at this time,” the detective said.

Garner asked who drove Brooks to the hospital.

“I’d rather not go into more details regarding this ongoing investigation,” Sitler said.

Garner told Hunter the court had not heard enough evidence to establish probable cause to forward the case to Muscogee Superior Court.

Prosecutor Matt Brown countered Garner was “fishing” for detailed evidence during a preliminary hearing in which authorities were required only to establish probable cause. Garner later can get more evidence during the discovery process as the case proceeds, Brown said.

Hunter agreed, saying Sitler’s testimony regarding Brooks’ identifying Carter as his assailant was sufficient. The judge ordered the suspect held without bond, and sent the case on.

After the hearing, Garner was asked how he felt about that.

“Well, I don’t know how I feel about it,” he said. “We haven’t been told anything…. I’ve never had a case before where they just won’t tell you anything.”

Police offered no concrete evidence of the statements they said Brooks made in the hospital, he noted: “There are no recordings of these statements…. I think the reason we don’t know anything is because they don’t have anything.”

Besides murder, Carter is charged with using a gun to commit a crime.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.
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