Crime

Testimony begins in Macon’s Zodiac Lounge killing trial

Bleeding from eight gunshot wounds, Deion Davis crouched behind his friend’s black Chevrolet Impala.

He’d been inside the Zodiac Lounge, a nightclub in the basement of the Riverview Ballroom, when an alleged group of Macon’s Mafia street gang members beat him with fists, a pool stick and a beer bottle.

Then, one of them fired a gun in the club, shooting Davis multiple times.

“I tried to run for my life,” Davis testified Monday.

But he fell and was shot again at the door to the stairs that led to the underground parking deck.

Davis said he somehow made it to his friend’s car where he waited and heard more gunshots ring out.

He didn’t see the shooter.

At about that time, in the early morning hours of July 5, 2013, 17-year-old Jamonni Bland was fatally shot in another part of the parking deck.

Andre Bonner, 32, is charged with murder in Bland’s death. His trial began Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.

In his opening statement to jurors, Bonner’s lawyer said his client is a victim of mistaken identity.

Prosecutor Sandra Matson said a security guard fired shots at Bonner, trying to save Bland after spotting Bonner shooting at him at close range.

“He knows he hit the man” because of his “reaction when he got hit,” Matson said.

John Michael Hollingshed Jr., 29, is accused of shooting Davis inside the club.

Hollingshed and Miranda Pettiway, who shares a child with Bonner, are set to testify that Bonner got out of their vehicle with a gun and returned with gunshot wounds to his neck and arm, Matson said.

Bonner’s lawyer, Melvin Raines, asked jurors to consider whether the guard, Hollingshed or someone else might have killed Bland.

Raines contends the guard told police he didn’t get a good look at the gunman’s face, and another person was in the parking deck firing a gun.

At least 36 shell casings were recovered from three different calibers of guns, Raines said.

Bonner was shot while running to get in the car, Raines told jurors.

“Mr. Bonner is amongst those people running, trying to get out,” he said.

SURVEILLANCE FOOTAGE

Jurors watched surveillance footage Monday afternoon from inside the club, located at the corner of Broadway and Walnut Street in downtown Macon.

While testifying Monday, 23-year-old Davis admitted he’d been drinking before he arrived at the club and was intoxicated.

The video showed Davis fumbling as he tried to pay his entrance fee at the door. He was patted down for weapons but didn’t have one.

Davis said he doesn’t know what caused the fight that led to him being “jumped.” He didn’t mean to cause a problem.

Matson told jurors in her opening statement that Davis stumbled into the group of alleged Mafia gang members and may have stepped on a member’s feet.

Viewing his actions as a sign of disrespect, the gang members “pummeled” Davis, she said.

Security guards broke up the fight and were pulled away from their posts at the door. That’s when Hollingshed and 28-year-old Johnifer Barnwell allegedly retrieved a gun from outside, Matson said.

The video shows a crowd scattering in the moments after Davis was first shot.

Matson showed jurors photos of a bloodstain on the wall of the parking deck where Davis hid.

Davis said he was unconscious when he was taken to local hospital.

He’s undergone five surgeries, and his injuries have kept him from working, he said.

Matson said there isn’t any surveillance footage from the parking deck that shows Bland being shot. Bland ran out of the club and into the parking deck after Davis was shot, she said.

Pettiway, 29, is set to testify that she was driving a maroon sport utility vehicle with Hollingshed and Bonner as her passengers when Bonner told her to stop in the parking deck, Matson said.

Pettiway and Hollingshed also will testify that Bonner, a convicted felon barred from having a gun, had a gun when he got out in the parking deck. Bonner was convicted of felony drug offenses in 2003.

Raines said Pettiway and Hollingshed have different versions of what happened. Pettiway’s story hasn’t been consistent, he said.

Bonner is charged with multiple violations of the state’s gang act and a gun charge.

He also is accused of assaulting a Bibb County deputy while incarcerated and awaiting trial.

Cases are pending against Pettiway and Hollingshed, who also are charged with murder in Bland’s death, and 39-year-old Percy Welch, who is accused of participating in Davis’ beating. Welch also is set to testify during Bonner’s trial.

Barnwell and four other people have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the beating.

Testimony in Bonner’s case is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

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