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After nearly a week of testimony from both sides and closing arguments Monday morning, jury deliberations began in the first-degree murder trial of Montavious Davis.
Davis, who has entered a plea of not guilty, is charged in connection with the July 2014 shooting death of 7-year-old Kamari Jones. The little boy was struck in the head by a stray, large-caliber bullet that night as he played video games in his bedroom inside his then-Parkview Street home.
The jury headed into deliberations around 3:15 p.m. Monday. Shortly before 5 p.m., jurors sent a note to Superior Court Judge Walter H. Godwin Jr. asking if they could see the law on each of the charges Davis is facing. Godwin told jurors they would resume court Tuesday morning, where he would read aloud the law again related to the charges Davis is facing.
‘HE’S LIED ABOUT EVERYTHING HE’S DONE’
Wilson County Assistant District Attorney Joel Stadiem flashed a photograph of Kamari on the computer screen for jurors to see during his closing arguments Monday morning.
“This case is unfair to this young man right here and his parents,” Stadiem said.
Stadiem argued that Davis knew what had happened earlier in the day regarding the first shooting. And he still decided to still into the vehicle with Ceante Spells and Kenneth Vinson.
“He knew there was going to be retaliation,” Stadiem said. “Of course there was a plan to go over there. There is no way you just happen to be there two and half hours later.”
Stadiem told jurors that Davis, who was also a member of the Powell Street gang, had told police various stories on where he was that night.
“He’s been consistent on one thing,” Stadiem said. “He’s lied about everything he’s done. Anything that hurts him, he lies.”
He said when Davis took the stand last week, he told the police for this first time about what really happened that night. Stadiem told jurors they shouldn’t buy it.
“The only person who is actually abiding by the gang code is this guy,” Stadiem said. He added that “you take hunters on a hunting trip.” And that’s exactly what happened that night when Davis, along with the others, chose to go retaliate and an innocent boy was left for dead.
“This defendant has consistently lied,” Stadiem said.
A couple of hours prior to the shooting at Parkview Street, there was a separate shooting near the National Grocery store on Stantonsburg Circle. Officials say that this shooting led to the second shooting that eventually killed Kamari. And it stemmed from rival gang conflict that ultimately led to retaliation.
The first shooting happened shortly after 7:30 p.m. on July 23, 2014. Anfernee Knight along with Demetrius Spells, Donnell V. Hill and another man were sitting in a vehicle near National Grocery. That’s when Antonio Pate drove by the area and fired multiple shots at the vehicle they were in, according to testimony. Knight returned fire with a 9mm, striking Pate in the shoulder.
About two hours later, Demetrius Spells, Hill and Knight drove to the Parkview Street area when they met up with Ceante Spells, Davis and Vinson, who were also in a separate vehicle, according to prosecutors.
Witnesses testified earlier in the trial, while they didn’t know who tried to kill them at the National Grocery shooting, one of the co-defendants received a call that a vehicle matching the description from the earlier shooting was parked on Parkview Street. It belonged to a member of a rival gang, according to testimony.
Several co-defendants in the case placed Davis at the scene of the Parkview Street shooting. They also allege Davis was one of three, including Vinson and Knight, who got out of the vehicles that night and ran between houses in the neighborhood and began to shoot.
Other co-defendants alleged Davis led them to the area that night because he “had to make a move,” regarding the earlier shooting.
The co-dedendants in the case were members of the MOB gang, but Davis was a member of the Powell Street gang, according to testimony. Those two gangs had an alliance.
‘LEADING THE PACK AWAY FROM THE SCENT’
Davis’ attorney, Thomas Manning, argued that Davis didn’t have motive to retaliate that night on Parkview Street because he wasn’t the one shot at earlier in the evening at National Grocery. He also argued that the MOB gang members were the ones who were targeted earlier in the day. And his client wasn’t a member of that gang.
Manning said that Ceante Spells was the leader of MOB and that he was angry when other members, including his cousin, Demetrius Spells, were shot at by a rival gang that day.
“They were angry and wanted to retaliate,” Manning said.
Manning argued that co-defendants in the case have given three versions of what happened that night once the two vehicles were parked on Forrest Road.
Davis testified last week that he was riding along with Ceante Spells and Vinson because they were smoking marijuana. He said that while he knew the earlier shooting had happened, he didn’t think anything of it that night. And he was baffled when gunshots rang out.
Davis has also claimed that it was Knight, Hill and Vinson who got out of the vehicles that night and ran between the houses.
Manning said a woman who lived in the Starmount Circle area on the night of the shooting saw three men running between the houses and shooting. He said that neighbor testified that she had known Davis for several years and she didn’t identify him to police as one of the three men she saw that night.
Manning also said as Davis was being questioned by police when he was arrested in the case, they were getting information from Hill who said that Davis buried the gun in the woods behind his parents’ home in Saratoga. Manning said Hill led police on a wild goose chase meant to divert investigators from the those who were really responsible.
After nearly two dozen officers spent multiple hours searching Davis’ family property and the home, nothing was found. Manning said Hill was “leading the pack away from the scent.” Manning said the state has cobbled together stories and hasn’t proven its case.
He said there was no evidence that Davis actively encouraged the retaliation and nobody had placed a gun in his client’s hand, either.