The defendant charged in a May 2017 murder testified an argument over his sister's safety escalated into a chaotic scene that ended in the shooting death of her ex-boyfriend.
Dana Day Jr., 31, of Jefferson City, is on trial for felony murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault in the shooting 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.
Day's attorney, Public Defender Michael O'Brien, had his client talk about events on the date in question during the trial Thursday.
Dana said he went to the lake and spent the day shopping before coming back to Jefferson City. He had made plans to spend time with his girlfriend at the corner of Tanner Way and Monroe Street that evening.
Dana said he had missed calls from his sister, Nyarrius Day, but they eventually talked and she asked him to come to Family Dollar on Madison Street. Dana said she seemed upset. O'Brien asked him if he had a gun with him at the time, and Dana said he didn't have one. O'Brien earlier told jurors Dana was at Family Dollar when Nyarrius arrived, but Fowler, Nyarrius' ex-boyfriend, was not.
Eventually Dana said he saw Nyarrius and Fowler, her ex-boyfriend, arguing in their vehicle on Tanner Way near his girlfriend's house. Nyarrius was yelling at Fowler so Dana told them to pull around on Monroe. Dana said he went to the passenger window, which was down. He said he could hear Nyarrius and Fowler argue; he said Nyarrius yelled at Fowler to get out. Dana said he thought it was unusual because he rarely saw Nyarrius get upset and there were also children in the car.
Dana testified Nyarrius said Fowler had beaten her the night before and stolen money from her. Dana said Fowler made a threat to harm Nyarrius in the car and that's when Dana punched Fowler through the window. He said everyone was yelling and it was a chaotic scene. He also said he wanted to make sure the car didn't move.
O'Brien earlier told jurors Fowler got out of the car at some point, grabbed the steering wheel and tried to drive the car to get away.
Dana said he went to the driver's side and started to pull Fowler out of the car. But he said Fowler was reaching for the floor board and the gas pedal. He also said Nyarrius said Fowler had a gun.
Dana testified he threw Fowler to the ground and punched him, telling him to "let go." Before Fowler did let go, Dana said Fowler hurt his knee, which allowed Fowler to run off. Dana said he heard several gun shots shortly after that.
O'Brien earlier told jurors there were other people at Dana's girlfriend's house who were friends and relatives of Dana. As Fowler was running away, two of those people shot him, Dana said.
He then testified Nyarrius went to the area of East Ashley and Monroe streets after the shooting. Dana told her to leave the area, and he went back to his girlfriend's house. He said Nyarrius told him that Fowler was dead the next time she saw him.
"I never had bad blood with Mr. Fowler before this happened," Dana told O'Brien.
Under cross examination by First Assistant Prosecutor Scott Fox, Dana said he was the only one fighting with Fowler. He also said he saw Fowler had a gun in his hand. Dana testified Fowler and a bystander, Devon Skinner, fired shots at each other.
Skinner, 26, of Milwaukee, was arrested in September 2020 on a Cole County warrant for unlawful use of weapons, armed criminal action and second-degree murder in the case. Dana said he didn't do anything wrong because he was protecting his family members.
Fox noted Fowler, according to Dana's testimony, had not touched Nyarrius before Dana fought with him, but Dana said he believed something bad was going to happen so he acted.
"I have to protect her as her big brother," Dana said.
Four inmates who were in the Cole County Jail at the same time as Dana earlier testified Dana told them that he had shot Fowler.
"I don't know where all these snitches are coming up with these stories," Dana said.
Thursday's proceedings began with Jefferson City Police Department Detective Jason Ambler on the witness stand.
Ambler testified authorities did not have the firearm used in the crime and found no direct evidence of pre-planning of the crime such as phone records or social media messages.
In November 2020, Ambler testified, police did a re-enactment with Nyarrius. He testified authorities believed Nyarrius and Fowler had relationship problems and Fowler had assaulted and stolen from her. Ambler testified Nyarrius contacted Dana for help and eventually led to a fight between Day, Fowler and two others, which led to the shooting of Fowler.
After the shooting in 2017, Ambler testified Nyarrius said she had talked with her father before coming to police and rehearsed what she would say. Nyarrius told authorities her father wanted her to distance herself from the incident for her safety and her children's.
In November 2020, she told Ambler she wanted to come forth since her father had died and she wanted the truth to be known in the death of her child's father.
O'Brien noted Nyarrius was also facing criminal charges at the time in the crime.
Online court records show that earlier this month, after prosecutor's filed amended information, Nyarrius pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of accessory to an assault during a hearing before Cole County Judge Cotton Walker and was ordered to serve two years unsupervised probation.
Court records also show in a suppressed indictment that Nyarrius had been indicted by a Cole County Grand Jury in June 2019 on felony charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, armed criminal action and second-degree domestic assault in connection with Fowler's death. Those charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors have the option to refile them.
Jurors were shown the re-enactment which Ambler said had Nyarrius giving a realistic review of what took place on the night the fatal shooting occurred.
Nyarrius showed how Dana and Fowler were fighting. She said they came across her lap and Fowler was dragged out the driver's side door. Nyarrius said they were kicking and punching each other after Fowler was dragged out of the car, and two others were also involved. She said she saw Dana stomping on Fowler. At some point, Fowler got up and ran away as Nyarrius drove away. She said she heard around 10 shots fired, saw two people doing the shooting, but didn't see Dana with a gun. Nyarrius could not see Fowler after she drove away.
On Thursday afternoon, Nyarrius was called to the stand to talk about the night of the shooting and how she stopped at Tanner Way, turned right on Monroe Street and had a person approach and stop in front of the car.
Nyarrius said she was later told it was Skinner who was the person who jumped in front of the car and was later involved in the fight. Nyarrius said Dana was the one who dragged Fowler out and was beating him at the same time. She said Dana, Skinner and one other person pulled Fowler all the way out. Nyarrius said she had no idea a gun would be used and Fowler had no gun. She also said she never argued with Fowler in the car before the fight occurred and she never asked Dana to assault Fowler.
Nyarrius told O'Brien she had earlier called Dana for support and did so because she thought she might be unsafe.
"He would protect you if needed and not let her get beat up?" O'Brien asked Nyarrius. "Yes," she answered.
Nyarrius also said there was never any bad blood between Dana and Fowler before the night of the fight and shooting.
Fox asked Nyarrius if she had feelings of guilt over the situation and that she had a hand in what happened which impacted her change of cooperation with authorities and she said, "yes."
Prosecutors told Presiding Judge Jon Beetem that they had rebuttal witnesses who would be called to the stand today.