To hear police and prosecutors tell it, Joshua Dodson’s victims weren’t the only ones having a run of bad luck in the summer of 2012.
Dodson’s on trial with Dearius Ransom this week on charges of armed robbery, carjacking and obstructing police. According to court testimony Wednesday, he was not a successful carjacker, nor very good at fleeing police.
He wrecked the car he was hijacking right after he took it at gunpoint, and just five days later he and Ransom got caught in thorns and concertina wire while running from police, witnesses said.
The wrecked car belonged to Derrick Moore, who for jurors recalled the June 28, 2012, robbery outside a tax service at 4000 St. Mary’s Road, where he had stopped to talk to his girlfriend.
That’s where a black Chevrolet Impala that Ransom was driving pulled up beside his Ford Crown Victoria, and Dodson got out of the passenger’s side, pointed a gun at his head and ordered him out of the car, Moore said.
Two other men were with Dodson and Ransom, he said. When he got out of his car, Dodson put the gun to his chest, and one of the men hit him, he said.His girlfriend screamed and pulled him away, and Dodson got into his Ford and drove off, he said.
But Dodson immediately disabled the Ford by driving over a curb and through a ditch, blowing out the front tires, said Moore, who recalled seeing his car “five feet in the air” as it bounced out of the ditch.
Police found the Ford a short distance away. The damage was estimated at around $3,000, Moore said.
That June 28 was a Thursday. The following Monday, July 2, police hunting for Dodson and Ransom heard they were at Elizabeth Canty Homes off Cusseta Road.
Cathy Bush, then a police officer with the department’s fugitive squad, got the tip and saw the pair sitting on a porch with two others, she testified. She called for backup, and police began setting up a perimeter to encircle them.
Dodson and Ransom started walking, crossing the street to some nearby railroad tracks, she said. That’s when she called for them to stop, and they took off running, she said.
Heading toward Martin Luther King Boulevard, they cut behind Havenbrook Court Apartments and tried to get through some bushes, the officers right behind them, Bush said.
And then they were trapped, she said: Not only were the bushes themselves thorny, but they had grown up around concertina wire, camouflaging it from view, Bush said.
“We all got scratched up,” Bush recalled, of the suspects adding, “They were stuck in the bushes like everybody else.”
Also testifying Wednesday was the first victim to be carjacked that June 28.
Valtrene Larkins briefly burst into tears recalling how she was ambushed as she left the Pure service station on Fort Benning Road shortly after midnight. She’d just got off work and stopped to buy a drink.
She’d had to park her Chevy Impala near a garbage bin around the side of the store. She was putting her key in the door when a man beside the building yelled, “Hey!”
She looked up to see him pointing a pistol at her. He called her over, and as she passed the Dumpster, she felt a pistol touch the back of her head, as a second gunman had come up behind her. They took her cash and car keys, and as one drove off in her car, others ran up and got in, she said.
Crying in court Wednesday, she said, “I tried to forget this.”
Though she later was unable to identify the gunmen in a police photo lineup, she in court said Ransom was the man who first aimed a gun at her.
Defense attorneys hammered on such discrepancies in witnesses’ identifying their clients, with Dodson’s attorney Tim Flournoy noting Moore initially picked only Ransom from a photo lineup, but in court Moore said Dodson was the gunman who took his car.
The witness most certain of whom she saw was Moore’s current or former girlfriend, Lindsay Walker, who said she’d seen both defendants before the day they carjacked Moore, and she recognized them.
Less certain was whether she and Moore still dated. He testified they no longer were; she said he still was her boyfriend. Flournoy couldn’t resist asking about that. “It’s like an on and off relationship,” she told him.
She first saw Dodson and Ransom together in 2009, and remembered them when they showed up in Larkins’ stolen Chevy Impala at a Buena Vista Road carwash, where she met Moore shortly before he was carjacked, she said.
She did not know either suspect’s name, though she’d heard Ransom called by a nickname, she said. She noticed he had “twists” in his hair and a money bag tattoo under one eye, she said.
When Flournoy pressed her on whether she positively could identify Dodson as the gunman who hijacked Moore’s Ford, she said: “I know that face,” adding that during the carjacking, she particularly noticed “the way he looked like he was about to kill somebody.”