The first major trial to be held in Cole County since the COVID-19 pandemic began with jury selection Monday and testimony Tuesday.
Criminal trials can't be moved from the courthouse because of security issues, so judges have to pick juries in small groups.
"Because of social distancing, after a jury is impaneled, we lack the constitutionally required public access, so we are proposing to use the courthouse video-conferencing system to capture the trial and broadcast it to other courtrooms in the building for viewing," said Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem, whose courtroom is being used for the trial since it's the largest in the courthouse. "This requires us to have additional television carts, and we need additional TVs because the jury — again due to social-distancing requirements — has to be spread out in the courtroom during the trial because they can't just sit in the jury box."
Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green is presiding over the trial, which is a case involving a conflict over a romantic relationship with a woman that authorities claim led to the shooting death of a Jefferson City man on New Year's Day 2017.
Jeffery Millens Jr., 25, of Jefferson City, is charged with second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and armed criminal action.
The victim, Quonterio Davis, 23, of Jefferson City, was found suffering from several gunshot wounds to the torso in a residence in the 900 block of East Capitol Avenue, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement. He was taken to a local hospital and eventually pronounced dead from his wounds.
Davis and Millens both have children with the woman, Dimitri Barnes, whom authorities said the shooting allegedly was over.
Barnes testified Tuesday that she went to the East Capitol Avenue address with Davis. At one point, she went into a room to get food, she said. While in the room she heard glass breaking and arguing coming from another room. Barnes said another person told her to hide for her own safety because Millens was in the house. While hiding, Barnes said, she heard several gunshots and afterward was told Millens had shot Davis. Barnes testified she found Davis after he was shot and he couldn't talk to her. She also testified she never actually saw Millens at the scene of the shooting.
Police said two other witnesses at the Capitol Avenue address said Millens had shot Davis.
One of those witnesses, Kirsten Andrews, testified she saw Millens, who is her cousin, at the party. She said she had been drinking and smoking marijuana but claimed she distinctly heard his voice at the party, which made her go to where the shooting took place. She believed she saw flashes of what she thought was gunfire. After this, Andrews said, she and Millens exchanged glances but never talked to each other, and Millens walked out of the residence.
Prosecutors played the 911 call Andrews made to authorities on the night of the shooting. On it, Andrews tells operators Millens was the shooter; but on cross-examination Tuesday by Millens' attorney, Adam Cartwright, she said she never saw the shooter.
Millens was found in the area of Hawthorn Parkway and Linden Drive and taken into custody. His only statement to authorities was he did not know Davis and he had not been to the East Capitol Avenue address.
Cartwright told the jury all the witnesses who identified Millens from a photo lineup were asked only if they knew Millens, not if they could identify him as the shooter. Cartwright also said there was no blood found on his client's clothes.
Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson said police found a dreadlock at the crime scene and, through testing by the Missouri Highway Patrol's Crime Lab, found DNA that matched it to Millens.
Cartwright said hair can fall out rather easily; and one witness, Georden Qualls, said the majority of the people at the party had their hair in dreadlocks.
Testimony is scheduled to continue today. The trial could last until the end of the week.