Jermaine Donquintez Hall, 24, now faces 10 years in prison on each count. He will be formally sentenced by Circuit Judge Julian King on April 17. After verdict had been read, King told the jurors that Hall was currently in prison for an unrelated crime, and had a case involving a shooting into an occupied vehicle at McDonald’s pending before a grand jury.
This week’s trial centered around an incident at the Sadie Lee Homes Housing Project in Childersburg on June 14, 2012. Hall shot four teenagers from Sylacauga, specifically Tomas Swain, Quintavious Benton, Lawrence Brown and Julius Ison. At the time of the shooting, Swain and Brown were 17, Benson was 16 and Ison was 18.
According to testimony, the four victims attended church services at the Rock Christian Center the night of the shooting, then went to Ison’s house, where they met Deangelo Craig. Ison, Brown and Craig went to take Craig to Childersburg to meet a girl, then Ison and Brown came back to pick up Swain and Benson and then visit Ison’s sister in Sadie Lee. She was about to take a shower when they arrived, so the four boys said they decided to just walk around for a while to kill time.
They encountered Hall on Sadie Lee Drive, and he asked them if they had driven up in a gray Taurus. The boys said no, they had come in a silver Mercury, and Hall said something about getting out of his hood. The encounter might have ended there, but Swain snickered and said something along the lines of “Is he serious?”
According to their testimony, Hall responded by saying either “Do you think this is a game?” or “Do you think this is funny?” and then opened fire with either an SKS or an AK-47.
Swain was struck in the right shin, Benson just above the knee, Brown through his foot and Ison in the left thigh with an exit wound below his ribs. Hall also shot two houses and a tree, according to evidence presented at the trial.
The four victims were able to reach a house with the back door open on Ferry Road, and went inside. The owner told them to go on the front porch while she called police and an ambulance, so as not to get blood on her carpet.
Although numerous shell casings and bullet fragments were recovered from the scene, the gun itself was never found, and no forensic evidence was presented.
After the shooting, all four victims were able to pick Hall out of a randomized photo array with no difficulty, and were able to pick him out in the courtroom even though he had cut off his shoulder-length dreadlocks since the shooting.
Earlier that night, Hall had been playing in a regular card game at Sadie Lee. He had lost and went outside, but according to defense witnesses, he stuck his head back in regularly. The defense put up two witnesses from the card game who said Hall would not have had time to get from the site of the shooting back to the card game in the time allotted.
Two other defense witnesses testified that they overheard part of the argument, and that the voice they heard did not match Hall’s.
The case was prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Christina Kilgore and Nathan Mays. Will Hollingsworth represented Hall.
Across the hall, a separate jury heard evidence against Demetrius Shauntee Keith, 37, accused of burglary in the second degree.
Keith is accused of breaking into a woman’s apartment at Arbor Park during the early morning hours of April 18, 2011 and stealing two purses. The woman was home at the time, and called 911 while hiding in a closet. A Talladega police officer spotted him running away from the complex and a chase ensued. Lt. Alan Kelly, who was involved in the chase, testified that he saw Keith holding a white purse, which stood out against the black shirt he was wearing at the time.
The chase ended behind an empty house on Court Street, with Keith being tased.
One of the stolen purses was recovered on the back porch of the empty house.
Keith, who testified Wednesday afternoon, said he only ran from the police because he knew he had warrants for unpaid fines. He said the real burglars were “Fluffy and Popeye” who he had seen walking in the opposite direction as he was walking home after a night of serious drinking.
As for the inconsistencies and omissions in the statement he gave to Detective Doug Whaley the morning after the break-in, Keith said that he was still drunk after having spent almost 10 hours in jail.
The defense also called Keith’s great aunt, who testified that she and her sister, Keith’s grandmother, had visited the victim the morning of the break in, and said that the victim told them she had seen two young boys in her apartment, one of them wearing a red and white striped shirt. Keith testified that Fluffy had been wearing a similar shirt when he saw him. The victim herself testified that the two women had been rude and threatening to her, and denied letting them into the house. She also said the great aunt had followed her to Fincher’s and to the post office during the lunch break.
Closing arguments will begin today at 8:30 a.m.
Burglary in the second degree is a Class B felony in Alabama, punishable upon conviction by two to 20 years in prison.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org