PERRY -- Was a Houston County man shot dead once in the back of the head because of a contract killing gone awry, or did the killer shoot him after a robbery?
That’s the question that prosecution and defense attorneys left jurors with Tuesday after opening statements in the Superior Court trial of former trucking company owner Devasko Lewis.
The 36-year-old Lewis is on trial on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit murder in the Jan. 14, 2014, slaying of Kerry Glenn behind his uncle’s home off Ga. 224 near Perry. Lewis pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
Glenn was the nephew of Corey Daniels, a co-defendant in a pending federal trucking case against Lewis. Daniels was the intended target of the contract killing, prosecutors allege.
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Lewis also is accused of conspiring with the convicted shooter, Jamarcus Clark, 24, of Ashburn, in a Jan. 9, 2014, incident in the 1100 block of Jewell Drive in which Clark fired two shots through the front door of Daniels’ mother’s home. No one was hurt.
Clark is serving a life sentence in prison after pleading guilty to murder in Glenn’s killing and attempted murder in the shooting at Daniels’ mother’s home.
Federal prosecutors allege that Lewis hired Daniels as a front man, transferring ownership of his trucking company and assets to Daniels but continuing to run his company in spite of a cease-operation order. Daniels is expected to testify against Lewis at his federal trial, which is on hold for his Houston County murder trial.
Houston County prosecutors contend that’s motive for murder.
Prosecutor Dan Bibler told jurors that the prosecution’s case doesn’t rest only on the shooter’s testimony but also on other evidence.
Bibler argued that Lewis was an “active participant” in the Glenn killing and the attempt on Daniels’ mother’s life.
But Lewis’ attorney, Franklin J. Hogue of Macon, balked at the notion of a contract killing, noting to jurors that Lewis is facing only a maximum of 12 months in jail if convicted in the federal case.
Hogue asked jurors to listen carefully to the testimony and evidence and then weigh whether what they hear supports a contract killing or a robbery.
Hogue argued that Glenn may have been shot for $70,000 that Daniels allegedly obtained by cleaning out the trucking company’s bank account and cashing checks for company services. Clark learned about the money from his cousin, Tony Taylor, who may have put Clark up to the robbery. Hogue said. Taylor has not been charged by authorities in connection with the Houston County case. Hogue argued that Clark “threw this man (pointing to Lewis) under the bus” to protect Taylor when arrested for Glenn’s murder.
Clark testified Tuesday that Lewis gave him $2,500 for both jobs, though he should have gotten twice that amount and was supposed to have killed Daniels’ mother to send a message but didn’t have the heart and also said he mistook Glenn for Daniels in the second job.
He said he’d originally asked Lewis for $10,000.
Clark also testified that Lewis told him he had done a good job even though he killed the wrong man.
Clark’s recounting of the killing was matter of fact. He told jurors the killing didn’t characterize who he is. He said he originally communicated with Lewis through Taylor, but then directly with Lewis.
Hogue noted numerous inconsistencies in Clark’s testimony, and Clark gave three different versions of events in interviews with investigators. But he told jurors that was because he was first trying to go home but then realized the jig was up.
In the end, he picked Lewis out of a photographic lineup as the man he told investigators he had only known as “Bruce.”
He also testified that he may have told a fellow inmate in the Houston County jail that killing Glenn was a robbery and not a contract killing. He said he told another cousin he was going to rob Glenn, and they both went up to his home the day before the shooting to case the scene. He said he didn’t tell authorities about that trip because he didn’t want to involve his cousin.
Jurors also viewed a convenience store surveillance video of Clark and Lewis exchanging vehicles. The video shows Clark driving away in the work pickup truck that was identified by another witness at the scene of the killing. Hogue earlier told jurors that Lewis had no idea that the borrowed vehicle had been driven to Perry to be used in a crime.
Daniels testified that he told authorities that the only person he knew who would try to hurt him or his family was Lewis.
Daniels said Lewis had told him that federal authorities had no evidence, that everyone should stick together and that, “I hate to kill you about my money.”
Hogue questioned Daniels about why he had not previously said anything to investigators about that threat. Daniels said he had given investigators his cell phone. Upon repeated questioning by Hogue, Daniels said Lewis had sent him threatening text messages but he may have deleted the messages before he turned his phone over to authorities after his nephew’s killing.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday morning. Judge George F. Nunn is presiding over the trial.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.