A Cole County jury spent Tuesday listening to testimony from numerous witnesses in the second day of a 2017 murder case trial.
Dana Day Jr., 31, of Jefferson City, is charged with felony murder, first-degree assault and second- degree assault in the death of Taveeon Fowler, 23, of Jefferson City, on the night of May 8, 2017, near the 700 block of Monroe Street in Jefferson City.
First Assistant Prosecutor Scott Fox claimed that on the night of the crime, Dana Day's sister, Nyarrius Day, who is Fowler's ex-girlfriend, was driving a car with Fowler in the passenger seat and she and Fowler were exchanging money he owed her. At that time, Dana Day opened the driver's door and pulled Fowler across Nyarrius Day's lap. There was a struggle and ultimately Fowler was pulled out of the car, ending up on the pavement. Day and three other people are believed to have then assaulted Fowler. Shots were fired as Fowler was running away, and police found a blood trail in his path.
Dana Day's public defender, Kevin O'Brien, argued Fowler and Nyarrius Day had a "heated argument that became violent" the night before the incident occurred because Fowler had stolen money from her. O'Brien claimed Nyarrius Day called her brother to protect her and Dana Day had no conflict with Fowler prior to the incident. On the night of the shooting, O'Brien said, Fowler had only a portion of the money he owed Nyarrius Day, which led to an argument. At some point, they ended up at the end of the alleyway on Monroe Street, outside of Dana Day's girlfriend's house where the fight that led to the shooting occurred. O'Brien said there were other people at the house who were friends and relatives of Dana Day. As Fowler was running away, two of these people shot him, O'Brien claimed.
Leandre Williams, who was an eyewitness and said he saw three men punching and kicking Fowler for what seemed like about five minutes, testified Tuesday.
Williams said he saw the fight from the front porch of a house and saw a gun pulled out but didn't see anybody shoot the gun. Williams said he saw blood in the yard and later told police Day was a person he had seen that night. He also identified Day in the courtroom.
"They were beating him bad enough that they didn't need to shoot him," Williams told authorities.
Fox noted for the jury that Williams had an agreement to testify in this case as part of his guilty verdict to accessory charges in connection with a non-fatal shooting that occurred in March 2020. For his cooperation, prosecutors agreed to give Williams probation and he was ordered to serve 120 days of shock time in the Department of Corrections.
O'Brien noted it wasn't until 2020 before Williams talked with authorities about what he knew about this case, and he wouldn't have been in court Tuesday unless a deal had been made with him.
Another witness, Sequita Bradford, was called to testify by Fox. It was from her house that Williams had watched the fight that occurred prior to the shooting. Bradford testified a man and woman were arguing loudly in a car before the man was dragged out of the vehicle and the fight, involving three or four men, occurred. Bradford said the fight seemed to last three to five minutes. She was "pretty sure" one of the men who dragged the man out of the car had a gun. After seeing the flash of the gun fired, Bradford said, she saw the male victim run in front of her house, and he was limping the last time she saw him.
Fox also called Jefferson City Police Department Detective Jason Ambler to the stand. Ambler had interviewed Bradford shortly after the shooting. Fox played part of the interview Ambler had with Bradford where she talked about seeing "three dudes fighting one dude pulling him out of a car" and eventually seeing one of the men pulling out a gun.
Fox asked Ambler if Bradford had told him about her seeing a man and woman arguing in a car prior to the man being pulled out, and Ambler said Bradford had never said that in his interview with her.
Also testifying was Pat Duncan, currently a bailiff for the Cole County Circuit Court who was working as an officer with JCPD at the time of the crime. He testified no suspects were at the scene when officers arrived, but they did find a blood trail near where Day was lying. The blood trail went down Tanner Way toward Monroe Street. Duncan said numerous drops of blood went down Monroe Street, and they also found numerous shell casings. He added they found more blood in yards in the 700 block of Monroe Street.
Greene County Medical Examiner Dr. Deiter Duff, who did the autopsy of Fowler's body while working as the Boone/Callaway County medical examiner in May 2017, said Fowler had died from a gunshot wound to the torso. Duff testified he found numerous bruises and abrasions on Fowler, but they were not sufficient to cause significant damage.
More testimony is scheduled today, and the trial is scheduled to continue through the end of the week.