Police chased stolen car used in Deonn Carter slaying day before shooting, officer says

Prosecutor says defendant shot victim, left him in pool of his own blood, and sped off

This is an excerpt of the opening statement given by prosecutor George Lipscomb Wednesday at the trial of Tyquez Darnell Davis, who stands accused of murder in the 2016 death of Deonn Carter in Columbus, Georgia.
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This is an excerpt of the opening statement given by prosecutor George Lipscomb Wednesday at the trial of Tyquez Darnell Davis, who stands accused of murder in the 2016 death of Deonn Carter in Columbus, Georgia.

Columbus police almost caught four men in a stolen Nissan pickup the day before the truck was used in the fatal 2016 shooting of 31-year-old Deonn Rashod Carter, a police officer testified Wednesday in the murder trial of Tyquez Darnell Davis.

The truck was reported stolen Aug. 4, 2016, from 28th Street off Second Avenue, where the Smiths Station man who owned it was visiting a friend. The owner said that when he came out to take the friend to lunch, his silver 2014 Nissan Titan was gone.

On Aug. 8, Officer Ashley Still and a colleague were out looking for the stolen truck when they saw one matching its description cross Buena Vista Road at Eighth Street about 4:15 p.m.

They saw it park at the Fluellen Recreation Center, 2824 Eighth St., near a sedan and a moped, she said. The officers, who were in an unmarked car, called for a patrol unit to meet them, but the Nissan drove off as they waited, she said.

They followed it, but the four men inside saw they were being tailed and sped away, running stop signs and endangering other motorists, she said. The occupants of the sedan and the person on the moped tried to interfere in the pursuit, the moped cutting in front of the officers, she said.

Because their car was unmarked with no lights or sirens to warn other drivers a police chase was underway, the officers decided to break off the chase, she said, so the Nissan got away.

‘Gold teeth’

According to prosecutor George Lipscomb, Davis and four other suspects were in that same truck around 9:30 p.m. the next day when they went to Columbus’ Britt David area to buy marijuana, which they were smoking as they drove away.

That’s when they noticed Carter walking uphill from the mailboxes outside the Parkside at Britt David apartments, 5443 Armour Road, where Carter, who lived with his mother, had just gone to check the mail.

Davis and his cohorts turned in at the apartments’ entrance and drove past Carter before they circled back. Then Davis got out, started calling Carter names, and threatened to “kick his a—” as those in the truck encouraged him, Lipscomb said.

Carter was autistic, and his condition made him an easy target for bullying, authorities said.

Lipscomb said Davis pulled out a .38-caliber pistol, stuck it in Carter’s face, and robbed him of his cell phone before Carter tried to run away as Davis shot him in the leg.

Three of the five men accused of fatally shooting Deonn Carter, a popular Columbus, GA, autistic man, have pleaded to other charges as two go to trial.

The Nissan sped away, and neighbors who heard the gunshot came running to check on Carter, who lay on the ground bleeding. “I was robbed by a guy with gold teeth,” he told them.

Davis had gold teeth, Lipscomb said.

The following day, Aug. 10, 2016, police found the Nissan abandoned behind the Fluellen Rec Center, where officers had seen it two days earlier. “All my tools were gone,” said the owner, who worked in construction. The truck’s front driver’s side was “wrecked,” he said.

Dusting the truck for fingerprints, crime scene technicians found prints matching Davis and a codefendant, Quamaine Quinzell Thomas, Lipscomb said. Having identified each by name, detectives went to the hospital where Carter was being treated and showed him photo lineups with the suspects’ pictures.

Carter did not recognize Thomas, Lipscomb said, but he picked out Davis’ photo, identifying him as the guy with the gold teeth.

After repeated surgeries, Carter died in the hospital Aug. 20, 2016, from a pulmonary embolism.

Other charges

Quamaine Thomas, 21, is not on trial with Davis because he pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault, and is expected to testify in the trial. Two other suspects charged with Davis also have pleaded: Travarus Daiquan Thomas, 22, pleaded to aggravated assault and three counts of burglary, and Tauron Mykevious Stepney, 21, pleaded to aggravated assault.

A fifth suspect, Dequoyae Devon Walton, 25, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and to felonies of burglary and attempted burglary, but still faces charges of murder and aggravated assault in Carter’s death. He will be tried later.

Davis, 20, also is charged with murder and aggravated assault, but is on trial for other allegations that include two counts of auto theft and 10 of burglary.

During opening statements in the trial Wednesday, Lipscomb said Davis admitted those burglaries after his arrest on Aug. 18, 2019, when witnesses called police after they saw him sitting on a porch on 25th Avenue, about 1 a.m., holding a shotgun.

Hundreds of Columbus public safety officers, coworkers, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Deonn Carter, who one speaker called "the manifestation of love." Carter died of gunshot wounds 11 days after being shot during an attempted arme

Davis also had a .22-caliber revolver, so he was charged with being a minor with a handgun, as he was 17 and Georgia law requires that anyone with a handgun be 18 or older.

When detectives questioned him that same day, he admitted committing a string of burglaries, and stealing a white 2012 Chevrolet Suburban the previous Aug. 15 from what was then the Hughston Sports Medicine Hospital at 100 Frist Court, off Veterans Parkway.

Lipscomb told jurors the SUV belonged to a Louisiana woman whose husband was being treated at the hospital, where Davis was visiting a brother who’d been injured in a car crash. The woman left her keys in the Suburban’s ignition, the prosecutor said.

He showed jurors hospital surveillance footage of Davis walking around the Suburban, looking in the windows and testing the doors to see whether they were locked. He checked to see if any witnesses were nearby before twice hurling a rock at a back window before it shattered and he crawled inside.

Lipscomb said Davis used the SUV the same day while breaking into a residence off Alabama Highway 165 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 in the leg, Lipscomb said, and then bragged about it on Facebook.

His boast implicated Stepney, as he posted that he had told Stepney to keep a gun in hand, and Stepney had not, and could have been shot had Davis not fired first, the prosecutor said.

The Suburban’s owner stayed overnight at the Columbus hospital, and noticed the vehicle missing the next day. The Suburban later was found abandoned in south Columbus, with two .38-caliber handguns inside it, an officer testified.

With multiple burglary cases to present to the jury, prosecutors spent much of Wednesday laying the groundwork for those charges, having residents and police testify to when the incidents occurred and under what circumstances.

Lipcomb said Davis not only confessed to the break-ins, but led police on a driving tour to point out the homes he targeted.

In her opening statement, defense attorney Jennifer Curry emphasized that Davis volunteered all those details because police promised he would benefit from that cooperation, and not be charged with every case.

She reminded jurors the prosecution has the burden of proving Davis’ guilt: “We do not have to prove his innocence.”

Tyquez Davis, Dequoyae Waldon and Travarus Thomas were arrested in the August 9 shooting of Deonn Carter, who later died of his wounds. Two other suspects are still at large.

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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.