COLUMBUS, Ga. — The trial of three people wanted in the death of a Columbus man entered the testimony phase Wednesday. The murder happened at the Fourth Quarter Sports Bar and Grill hours after fights broke out in October 2015.
33-year-old Dominic Mitchell died in the shootout. Jury selection wrapped up, and the prosecution and defense gave opening statements in the trial. Prosecutor Ray Daniels says Demark Ponder, James Daniels, and Daginald Wheeler — all part of the same motorcycle gang — took part in Mitchell’s murder. But the defense says there’s a difference between motorcycle gangs and criminal street gangs.
“[Demark] was defending himself from an active threat,” attorney Rod Skiff said. “He’s got the gun in his holster until he was threatened by another assailant.”
James Daniels’ defense argues he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He was nearly present and merely associated with that group,” defense attorney Dorothy Williams said.
The state says the three men went to the sports bar to cause trouble.
“[They were] all dressed in blacks, all similarly outfitted, all in commando style types of tactics, working in unison,” Ray Daniels said.
The defense for Daginald Wheeler argues there’s nothing tying wheeler to the October 2015 murder.
“There’s no evidence as to Mr. Wheeler that he hired, procured, got anybody to do anything or harm anyone whatsoever in this case,” defense attorney Stacey Jackson said.
Following opening statements, the prosecution called witnesses to the stand. First, Dominic Mitchell’s widow took the stand. She had an emotional breakdown while looking at pictures of her husband, both before and after he was gunned down at the sports bar.
Columbus Police crime scene investigator Corporal Derick Solt later presented screen shots of the bar after the brawl. Further analysis is expected later in the trial. More witnesses, including police and rival motorcycle gang members will testify later this week.