Crime

Alleged getaway driver testifies in Zodiac Lounge murder trial

Miranda Pettiway ran for her life after gunshots rang out in the crowded Zodiac Lounge early on the morning of July 5, 2013.

With Andre Bonner and John Michael Hollingshed Jr. as her passengers, she started to drive her maroon Chevrolet Tahoe out of the underground parking garage outside the club.

“Andre told me to stop the truck,” Pettiway testified Tuesday in the trial for 32-year-old Bonner, who is charged with murder in the death of 17-year-old Jamonni Bland. Bland was fatally shot in the parking garage soon after 23-year-old Deion Davis was beaten and shot multiple times inside the club.

Pettiway, 29, was granted immunity from prosecutors using her testimony against her in her own case. She is charged with murder and doesn’t have a pending plea deal.

Pettiway testified she didn’t know who had fired a gun inside the club or that a gun was in her car until Bonner asked Hollingshed for his gun. Hollingshed, 29, passed the gun to Bonner, and they got out of the car, she said.

Pettiway, who shares a 7-year-old son with Bonner, also got out. She said she had dropped a piece of jewelry and wanted to search for it.

“I just started hearing gunshots,” Pettiway said.

She said she got back into her car and ducked down. She doesn’t remember how many shots were fired, but there were “a lot.”

Pettiway said she saw someone shooting in the direction of her car and was still ducking when Bonner and Hollingshed got back in the vehicle. Bonner still had the gun, she said.

Pettiway then drove Bonner to a local hospital. He’d been shot in the neck and arm.

She and Hollingshed stayed for about 15 minutes before she took Hollingshed to a neighborhood in west Macon where she dropped him off.

He had the gun when she dropped him off, she said.

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

Lawyer Melvin Raines asked jurors to consider whether Hollingshed, a security guard who says he fired shots to protect Bland, 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.

Raines also told jurors that Pettiway’s version of what happened hasn’t been consistent.

In her testimony Tuesday, Pettiway admitted she lied to police in multiple statements but said she was truthful in what she told authorities after coming forward and choosing to cooperate later on.

After dropping off Hollingshed, she returned to the hospital. While there, police asked her to write a statement. Bonner told her not to write anything, she testified.

She admits she lied in the statement and when she later was interviewed by police.

“I was trying to cover up for them,” Pettiway said.

TEEN INSIDE CLUB BEFORE HIS DEATH

Eugene Parker Jr., 29, testified Tuesday that his family gathered on July 4, 2013, at a reunion. Bland, who looked up to Parker as an older brother figure, also attended. Parker, who graduated from Northeast High School, moved to Nebraska for a time to play basketball.

That night and early July 5, Parker, Bland, Parker’s sister, his godbrother and a friend, Steve Billue, went to the Zodiac Lounge. The club is located in the basement of the Riverview Ballroom at the corner of Walnut Street and Broadway in downtown Macon.

Parker admitted he knew Bland was 17 and shouldn’t have been in the club.

After Davis was beaten and shot, Parker and others in his group went up the stairs toward the underground parking deck and their cars. Hearing more gunfire from outside, they rushed back into the club.

Billue, 27, testified he ran out a side door that led to a different floor of the parking deck. Walking around the building and down a ramp toward his car, he saw Bland.

Billue noticed two men with a gun in the corner of the lower level of the parking deck as he walked back toward the club searching for Parker.

At some point, more gunshots were fired, and he tried to hide underneath a car. He realized he’d been shot in the shoulder and hand.

Billue said he didn’t see who shot him and didn’t witness Bland being shot.

Parker testified he saw Billue when he tried a second time to exit the club. Walking toward Billue’s car to take him to a hospital, he saw Bland had been shot.

He was unresponsive.

Soon, Parker heard the sirens of police and an ambulance headed toward the club.

Hollingshed is set to testify in the trial, corroborating that Bonner told Pettiway to stop in the parking deck and that he had a gun.

A case still is pending against Hollingshed, the man accused of shooting Davis inside the club.

Percy Welch, 39, a man accused of participating in Davis’ beating, also is set to testify.

In addition to murder, 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.

Five other people have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the beating.

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

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

  Comments