Two men accused of murder and robbery told police they were involved in the April 6 shooting of Jeffrey Morgan, though one said he knew nothing beforehand about a robbery while the other claimed his gun fired by accident, a Columbus police detective testified Thursday.
Timothy Leshan Robinson, 20, and Dana Michael Kessler, 25, are accused in the shooting of Morgan, 25, outside Sands Apartments, 1213 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Both men appeared in Columbus Recorder's Court and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, hijacking a motor vehicle, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Kessler also faces a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Senior Judge Michael Cielinski ordered the men held without bond after hearing testimony from Detective Wayne Fairbairn.
The shooting stemmed from a drug deal in the apartment parking lot, Fairbairn said. Robinson set up the drug deal with Morgan, who was talking to him on a cell phone moments before the shooting.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
Morgan drove his 2011 blue Mazda into the parking lot about 2:25 p.m. April 6. Robinson, Kessler and 19-year-old Edward Trevor Love, who remains at large, arrived moments later in a gray Mitsubishi, Fairbairn said.
Two men got out of the Mitsubishi and approached Morgan's car.
"After a short transaction, a shot was fired," Fairbairn said.
Kessler fired the bullet that struck Morgan in his upper, right arm. The bullet then entered Morgan's chest, the detective added. Kessler then pulled Morgan from the vehicle. One suspect then drove the Mazda from the scene while the other two suspects left in the Mitsubishi.
Fairbairn said Morgan's car was found abandoned on nearby Talley Avenue.
Police spoke with witnesses to the shooting, who gave officers descriptions of the suspects. They also found Morgan's cell phone and discovered a number that led them two days later to Robinson.
"During this investigation, he admitted to his involvement," Fairbairn said.
Robinson, however, said he knew nothing about plans to rob Morgan. Instead, he was merely helping Kessler buy drugs from Morgan, the detective added.
Robinson pointed to Kessler as a suspect, and police arrested him late that same day, Fairbairn said. Kessler told police everyone knew a robbery was planned.
"(Kessler) said he was the one who did fire, but he said it was an accident," Fairbairn testified.
Cielinski then found probable cause to bind the case over to Muscogee County Superior Court.