Two suspects in Deonn Carter homicide take the stand against alleged shooter

Judge grants motion to sever. Trial of one defendant underway, one on hold

Judge Ron Mullins granted prosecutor George Lipscomb's motion to sever the trials of defendants Tyquez Darnell Davis and Dequoyae Devon Waldon, both charged in the 2016 slaying of Deonn Carter. The trial of Davis is proceeding as scheduled.
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Judge Ron Mullins granted prosecutor George Lipscomb's motion to sever the trials of defendants Tyquez Darnell Davis and Dequoyae Devon Waldon, both charged in the 2016 slaying of Deonn Carter. The trial of Davis is proceeding as scheduled.

When Travarus Thomas saw Tyquez Davis pointing a pistol in Deonn Carter’s face, he decided to ask what was up, he said.

It was the night of Aug. 9, 2016. Before they saw Carter, Thomas and Davis had been riding around with three others in a 2004 Nissan Titan pickup that had been stolen five days earlier.

Testifying Friday in Davis’ murder trial, Thomas said they had gone to Columbus’ Britt David area to buy marijuana, and Davis was driving as they left traveling south on Amour Road toward Airport Thruway.

That’s when Davis saw Carter, who had just checked the mail at the Parkside at Britt David Apartments, 5443 Armour Road.

“He stated that he knew Mr. Carter,” Thomas said of Davis, so Davis turned in at the apartments, drove past Carter and then circled back.

Davis got out of the truck to talk to Carter, but Thomas said he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Then he saw Davis stick the gun in Carter’s face, so he got out to ask why, he said.

“What the f—k are you doing?” he said he yelled at Davis.

“That’s when Mr. Carter went to running,” he testified.

Carter still was holding the mail he’d just retrieved for his mother as he tried to get away. Davis pointed and fired, the .38-caliber bullet hitting Carter in the back of his left knee. Carter died in the hospital 11 days later.

Also testifying Friday against Davis was another codefendant, Quamaine Thomas — no relation to Travarus Thomas — who gave a similar account of the shooting.

“We were just running around smoking,” he said of the group in the Nissan. Then they happened upon Carter and pulled in at the apartments, where “Davis just got out of the car like he knew him,” he said. “I seen him pull a gun out, and he shot him.”

Asked whether anyone in the truck suggested Davis accost Carter, he said, “Ain’t nobody tell him. He just did it on his own.” No one discussed the shooting afterward, he said.

Prosecutor George Lipscomb has told jurors Carter, 31, was autistic, and his condition made him an easy target for bullies. Lipscomb alleged Davis taunted Carter while others in the truck egged him on.

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.

The deals

On cross examination Friday, defense attorney Jennifer Curry emphasized the plea deals the two witnesses made to avoid murder charges in Carter’s death.

Travarus Thomas has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and three counts of burglary, and is to serve no more than 20 years. Quamaine Thomas pleaded to aggravated assault, and is expected to serve no more than 10 years.

A fourth suspect, Tauron Stepney, also pleaded to aggravated assault, with no agreement on his sentencing, and a fifth, Dequoyae Waldon, still faces murder and assault charges on which he’s to be tried later.

Both Travarus Thomas and Quamaine Thomas are free on bond, and both said Lipscomb threatened to have them returned to jail if they didn’t testify as agreed.

“I had no choice but to take a plea,” Travarus Thomas told Curry. He knew police would nail him on the burglaries, which he admitted, and he didn’t want to risk going to trial on those charges along with murder and assault, he said.

Asked what deal he made with prosecutors, Quamaine Thomas replied, “I testify on Davis, I get my murder dropped to aggravated assault.”

Neither witness testified to seeing Davis rob Carter of his cell phone before the shooting, but police Cpl. Sandra Hickey testified Friday that Carter’s cell phone was recovered when Davis was arrested Aug. 18, 2016.

Tracing its calls showed Carter’s phone was used to call Davis’ cell phone soon after the shooting, and Davis’ phone called Carter’s around 12:30 a.m. that same night.

Besides murder and aggravated assault, Davis is charged with 10 counts of burglary and two of auto theft. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The trial resumes Monday in Judge Ron Mullins’ Government Center courtroom. Mullins told jurors Friday that they may be able to start their deliberations by Wednesday.

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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.