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Jurors heard opening statements Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of a man accused in the July 2014 shooting death of 7-year-old Kamari Jones.
Montavius S. Davis, 27, is on trial for several charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the killing. Davis has entered a plea of not guilty.
On July 23, 2014, Kamari was playing video games inside his bedroom when gunfire erupted outside the family’s then-home on Parkview Street. A bullet pierced his bedroom window, striking him in the back of the head. Neighbors said they saw men park a gray and black car on Starmount Circle and run between some houses to Parkview Street. That’s when bullets started to fly.
Less than 48 hours after the shooting, Wilson police caught a break in the case, Wilson County Assistant District Attorney Joel Stadiem told jurors Tuesday.
He said officers spoke with Davis, who never mentioned he was with several other co-defendants shortly before the incident. But detectives found video surveillance of him outside a Wilson convenience store with those co-defendants 25 minutes prior to the shooting.
Stadiem said Davis later admitted to police that he went to the store. Stadiem said the evidence in the case will show that Davis went with the other co-defendants to the Parkview Street area that night. He said Davis got out of the vehicle and that witnesses saw him walking between the apartments.
“The defendant was outside the vehicle between those apartments when gunshots rang out,” Stadiem told jurors.
He said co-defendants will testify this week and will place Davis at the scene of the crime.
When those gunshots rang out that night, one bullet hit a parked vehicle, another one struck the front door of Kamari’s home and the other bullet pierced his bedroom window, went through the headboard of his bed and struck him in the back of the head, according to prosecutors.
Davis’ attorney, Thomas Manning, told jurors the state will rely on testimony from co-defendants in the case who have struck a deal in exchange for less time behind bars. He said saying something does not necessarily mean that thing is true or accurate.
Manning said his client was the one who went down to the police department to speak with officers nearly two days after the shooting. He said Davis will testify for jurors at some point during the trial about why he wasn’t as forthcoming with police during the interview. He said it was due to outside threats from the streets.
“He will testify that if he told what he knew, he would be harmed or his family would be harmed,” Manning said.
He said a woman who lived in the Parkview area on the night of the shooting will testify that she saw three men running between the houses and shooting. She told police, Manning said, that the men were wearing light-colored clothing and were skinny.
Manning said the only people who were skinny at that time were the co-defendants in the case and not his client.
“My client was far from skinny,” Manning said.
He also said the neighbor will testify she has known Davis all her life. Manning said she didn’t identify Davis to police as one of the three men she saw that night.
Jury selection began Monday afternoon in Wilson County Superior Court. After hours of questioning, the jury was empaneled Tuesday shortly before 3 p.m.
Out of the seven men selected for the jury, six are white and one is black. Out of five women selected, three are black and two are white. Testimony will resume Wednesday in the trial that’s expected to last the remainder of the week.
Resident Superior Court Judge Walter H. Godwin Jr. is presiding over the trial.
Several others were charged in connection to Kamari’s killing including 20-year-old Anfernee Knight; Donnell V. Hill, 22; Kenneth T. Vinson, 24; Demetrius D. Spells, 25; and Ceante Latrell Spells. Several of those men are expected to testify during the trial.
In May, Knight was found guilty of first-degree murder and related charges in Kamari’s death and is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.