Three plead in 2016 slaying of Columbus autistic man, two set for trial
Three of the five suspects accused of fatally shooting a popular Columbus autistic man pleaded guilty to other charges Monday as the rest got ready for trial in the Aug. 9, 2016, slaying of 31-year-old Deonn Carter.
Prosecutor George Lipscomb said the suspects decided Carter was an easy target when they passed him in a stolen truck around 9:30 p.m. as Carter walked away from mailboxes outside the Parkside at Britt David apartments, 5443 Armour Road.
When the stolen Nissan Titan pickup circled back, Tyquez Darnell Davis taunted and threatened Carter before getting out, putting a pistol in Carter’s face and demanding his possessions, Lipscomb said, adding the other suspects egged Davis on.
Carter gave Davis his cell phone and tried to run away as Davis shot him in the leg, Lipscomb said. Carter died in the hospital 11 days later.
His death sparked outrage not only because of his autism, but because he had befriended local police and firefighters while working at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store on River Road, memorizing not only their names but their unit numbers and other assignments
Charged with Davis in Carter’s slaying were Travarus Daiquan Thomas, Quamaine Quinzell Thomas, Dequoyae Devon Waldon, and Tauron Mykevious Stepney.
All were charged with murder and aggravated assault in Carter’s death. Travarus Thomas, Waldon and Stepney also faced charges in a series of burglaries and car thefts that occurred around the same time.
As attorneys prepared for jury selection Monday, Travarus Thomas, Quamaine Thomas and Stepney opted to plead out altogether. Waldon pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him, but not those related to Carter’s death, so he and Davis still are set for trial.
Here are the other pleas:
- In a deal arranged by defense attorney Tim Flournoy, Travarus Thomas, 22, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and three counts of burglary, on the condition he serve no more than 20 years in prison. His murder charge is on hold, contingent on his trial testimony.
- Represented by William Kendrick, Quamaine Thomas, 21, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He is to serve no more than 10 years, if he testifies truthfully during the trial, Lipscomb said.
- Represented by attorney Anthony Johnson, Stepney pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, with no agreement to testify and no recommended sentence. He faces one to 20 years in prison. He is 21.
Facing life in prison, Davis has rejected any plea offer, Lipscomb said.
Represented by Stacey Jackson, Waldon pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to a misdemeanor theft charge and to felony charges of burglary and attempting to commit burglary. No sentencing arrangement was announced, but he can get up to a year on the misdemeanor, up to 10 years for the attempted felony and one to 20 years for burglary, Lipscomb said.
Now 25, Waldon still is to be tried for murder and aggravated assault in Carter’s death, and prosecutors believe Jackson wants Waldon to be Davis’ only remaining codefendant to limit the evidence against him.
Court precedent dictates that prosecutors cannot use Davis’ statements to police implicating Waldon unless Davis takes the witness stand to testify, because Waldon has a constitutional right to confront his accusers in court. If Davis does not take the stand and Jackson has no opportunity to cross-examine him, then Waldon is denied his right to confront his accuser.
Because of this, Lipscomb said he may move to sever the case into two, so that Waldon is tried separately, and no longer Davis’ only codefendant.
The car thefts and burglaries involving Davis, Waldon, Stepney and Travarus Thomas led to a June indictment alleging a total of 20 counts. Here’s a breakdown of the other charges:
- Waldon allegedly stole a 2000 Lincoln Towncar worth $2,000 from the 3900 block of Buena Vista Road on July 11, 2016. He was charged with theft.
- Waldon allegedly had a gun in a stolen vehicle that same day when he tried to break into a home through a carport in the 5900 block of Manassas Drive. He was charged with attempt to commit a felony.
- Davis, 20, remains accused of stealing the Nissan Titan pickup used in Carter’s assault. The truck worth $5,000 was taken Aug. 4, 2016, according to his indictment.
Davis also is charged with burglary in 10 other incidents:
- Breaking into a home in the 4600 block of Buckner Street on July 25, 2016.
- Breaking into a home in the 3600 block of Fairview Drive on Aug. 5, 2016.
- Burglarizing a residence in the 1500 block of Alamo Drive, also on Aug. 5.
- Breaking into a home in the 1400 block of Cloverdale Road on Aug. 6, 2016.
- Breaking into a home on Wickham Drive on Aug. 10, 2016.
- Burglarizing a residence in the 4800 block of Fairview Drive on Aug. 15, 2016.
- He and Travarus Thomas were accused of breaking into a home in the 2500 block of Kingsridge Drive, also on Aug. 15.
- Davis and Travarus Thomas were charged with breaking into a home in the 900 block of Bethune Court, also on Aug. 15.
- Davis, Travarus Thomas, and Waldon were accused of breaking into a residence in the 6000 block of Buxton Drive, also on Aug. 15.
- Davis alone remains charged with breaking into a home in the 3300 block of Flintlock Drive on Aug. 16, 2016.
On Aug. 16, 2016, Davis visited a brother being treated at what was then a Hughston Sports Medicine Hospital at 100 Frist Court, off Veterans Parkway, where he allegedly threw a rock through the window of a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban in the parking lot and drove off in the SUV police valued at $40,000.
The theft was recorded on video, Lipscomb said.
He said Davis used that SUV the same day while breaking into a residence in Phenix City, where the homeowner arrived to find his house being burglarized and pulled out his own gun. Davis shot and wounded the man, Lipscomb said, and then bragged about it on Facebook.
The Suburban was equipped with an OnStar security system, the prosecutor said. When the owner later discovered the vehicle missing, she called OnStar, which deactivated the engine, leaving Davis stranded, Lipscomb said.
When police arrested Davis two days later, they found he had a .22-caliber handgun and charged him also with being a minor in possession of a pistol, as he was 17 at the time, according to his indictment. With some exceptions, Georgia law requires anyone with a handgun to be at least 18.