Macon man guilty of murder in Zodiac Lounge shooting

Jurors deliberated about four hours Friday before finding a Macon man guilty of fatally shooting a 17-year-old outside the Zodiac Lounge July 5, 2013.

Andre Bonner, 32, was found guilty of murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and four counts of violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. He was found not guilty on two counts of violating the state’s gang act stemming from allegations he assaulted a deputy at the Bibb County jail while he awaited trial.

Sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Jury deliberations began at about 1:30 p.m. Friday after a five-day trial in Bibb County Superior Court.

Jamonni Bland died after being shot four times in a parking deck outside the Zodiac Lounge, located beneath the Riverview Ballroom at the corner of Walnut Street and Broadway in downtown Macon.

The shooting occurred minutes after Bland had left the club amid gunfire that critically injured 23-year-old Deion Davis.

Davis also was beaten by multiple members of the Westside Mafia street gang.

Ricky Williams, a security guard from the club, testified during Bonner’s trial that he saw a man shooting at Bland as Williams was escorting patrons to their cars. He said he fired on the shooter to defend Bland, himself and others in the parking deck.

John Michael Hollingshed, 29, also testified and admitted that he shot Davis and was a member of the Westside Mafia. He and alleged getaway car driver Miranda Pettiway, 29, told jurors Bonner had a gun before he got out of the car in the parking deck.

When Bonner returned to the car, he’d been shot in the neck and arm, Hollingshed and Pettiway testified.

In closing arguments held Friday, Bonner’s lawyer, Melvin Raines, contended Bonner was misidentified as the man who shot Bland and that he didn’t land a punch on Davis in the gang brawl inside the club.

Raines pointed to what he alleged were inconsistencies in witness testimony and the evidence.

With at least five guns firing 36 shots, it doesn’t make sense that Hollingshed would give the gun to Bonner, Raines said.

He questioned whether Hollingshed and Pettiway are reliable witnesses.

Raines also questioned how Williams picked Bonner from a photo lineup after telling police he didn’t get a good look at the gunman. In his testimony, Williams said he initially didn’t want to get involved, but he is sure he picked the right person from the lineup.

Perhaps Williams accidentally shot Bland, or a ricochet bullet killed him, Raines said.

He also questioned who shot the two other men who were injured that night.

Raines told jurors the prosecution is trying to use Bland and his grieving family to make him a poster boy in their effort to disband “a loose federation of misguided youth.”

“We may not understand Mr. Bonner and his friends, but they deserve justice,” he said.

Prosecutor Sandra Matson reminded jurors of DNA on a do-rag found near Bland’s body. The DNA matched Bonner. He’s seen wearing the head covering in the club’s surveillance video.

She also pointed to testimony that Bland was at an east Macon pool hall weeks before the Zodiac Lounge incident when an altercation broke out between the Mafia and their rival, the Crips.

Bland was wearing blue clothing when he was killed.

Blue is the color associated with the Crips, she said.

After the verdict was announced, District Attorney David Cooke said the case was a poster child for why his office’s anti-gang initiative is necessary.

“It also is a stunning example of just how effective our partnership with the Bibb County Sheriff’s gang unit can be,” he said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.