Prosecutor says defendant shot victim, left him in pool of his own blood, and sped off
The police officer had never seen such profuse bleeding before.
The scarlet blood pouring from the back of Deonn Carter’s left knee appeared to be coming out in clots, Cpl. Aaron Evrard testified Thursday in the murder trial of Tyquez Darnell Davis, who is accused of shooting Carter while robbing the 31-year-old on Aug. 9, 2016. Carter died 11 days later in the hospital.
Evrard was among the first officers to arrive at the Parkside at Britt David Apartments, 5443 Armour Road, where Carter lived with his mother. Carter was returning from checking the mail about 9:30 p.m. when men in a pickup truck stopped to harass him, before one took his cellphone and shot Carter in the leg as he tried to run away.
Evrard said he asked Carter who shot him: “He stated a black male with gold teeth.”
Prosecutors said Davis had gold teeth.
Neighbors testifying Thursday recalled Carter’s distress when they found him wounded outside the apartments.
“He was hurt and in a lot of pain,” said one man. “He was doing a lot of hollering.”
“He looked to be terrified,” said a woman. “I was holding him up because he was about to fall out…. He was just pouring out blood.”
Carter’s mother, Suzette Ragland, recalled a neighbor coming to her door to tell her what happened. She ran out to find her son.
“There he was sitting out there in his own blood,” she testified. “He said, ‘They took my phone.’ ”
She said he told her, “Mama, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just went to the mailbox.”
“That was one of his chores,” she said. “He took out the trash and checked the mail.”
Carter was autistic, and authorities believe that made him an inviting target to bullies.
Ragland recounted what Carter told her about the assault: “They were taunting him, telling him they were going to kick his a--,” she said. “I kept telling him, ‘Be calm. It’s going to be all right.’ ”
He was distraught over losing his phone, she said. “Don’t worry about no phone,” she told him. “We’ll get you another phone.”
She said her son had the mental capacity of someone 18 or 19 years old. “He had a great memory,” she said.
The public safety workers Carter befriended through his job at Columbus’ River Road Piggly Wiggly store could attest to that: In describing Carter’s attention to detail, they remarked that he remembered not only their names but their unit numbers and assignments.
Those called to the shooting recognized him. “I immediately noticed he was familiar to me,” said Evrard, who recalled Carter’s “love for police.”
“He was really scared,” said Detective Roy Green. “We were able to calm him down because he knew most of us.”
Green put a tourniquet on Carter’s leg, just before medics arrived, and then escorted the ambulance to Piedmont Columbus Regional, where Carter died on Aug. 20, 2016.
Dr. Keith Lehman, the GBI medical examiner who performed Carter’s autopsy, said Carter died from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that moved to his lungs. It resulted from the leg wound and the reduced mobility of being hospitalized, Lehman said, adding Carter also had high blood pressure, a risk factor.
The day after Carter’s shooting, police found a stolen Nissan Titan pickup they believe the men who accosted him were in. It had fingerprints matching Davis and a co-defendant, Quamaine Quinzell Thomas, said prosecutor George Lipscomb.
Thomas is not on trial with Davis because he pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault. Two other suspects, Travarus Daiquan Thomas and Tauron Mykevious Stephney also have pleaded to assault charges in Carter’s shooting.
A fifth defendant, Dequoyae Devon Waldon, still faces murder and aggravated assault charges, but he is to be tried later.
The day after the shooting, police prepared photo lineups for Carter to view. Carter didn’t recognize Quamaine Thomas, but picked Davis as the man with the gold teeth who shot him and took his phone.
That evidence proved problematic, because the detective who showed Carter the lineup later died, so he can not testify to authenticate it. Lipscomb tried to get it into evidence as Carter’s “dying declaration,” which is admissible only if it came from a witness speaking while in immediate fear of death.
Defense attorney Jennifer Curry argued that Carter, who had just been through hours of surgery before being returned to a room in the hospital’s intensive care unit, no longer faced that fear.
“There’s no evidence that he believed he was going to die, or that his situation was hopeless,” she said, noting court precedents require that anyone making such a declaration do so with “consciousness of a swift and certain doom” or “death immediately at hand.”
Judge Ron Mullins ruled in Curry’s favor.
The trial resumes Friday in Mullins’ Government Center courtroom.
In addition to murder and aggravated assault, Davis is charged with 10 counts of burglary and two of auto theft, and with being a minor in possession of a handgun, as he was 17 when police arresting him found he had a .22-caliber pistol.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.