COLUMBUS, Ga. — Emotions dominated the day during witness testimony in the 4th Quarter Sports Bar murder trial. 38-year-old Demark Ponder, 53-year-old Daginald Wheeler, and 36-year-old James Daniel, Jr. all face murder charges in the death of Dominic Mitchell.
The defense retracted their motion to strike witness testimony from Monday, after that witness refused to name Columbus Police officers involved with the Outcasts biker club.
The first witness to take the stand Tuesday says he went to the sports bar to support his fiancée, as she was hanging out with other member of the Lady Strikers. The witness says he was outside the sports bar when the fight started. He said when he heard gunshots, he went to his fiancée’s car and pulled out an assault rifle. He says it’s difficult to talk about the night Mitchell died, because he considered him like a son.
“[He was] just a good guy, a home grown guy,” the witness said. “You can tell he was raised right. He was respectful.”
The witness says Mitchell, 33, expressed he was tired the night he died. He wanted to go cook at the sports bar to support his friends. The witness says once the Outcasts arrived at the sports bar, tension grew into a bar room brawl. Soon, bullets were flying. The witness says he went to his fiancée’s car to retrieve an assault rifle. He fired two warning shots, and soon after he was shot in the stomach and neck.
The witness then fired toward a group of bikers leaving the sports bar. Police later learned the witness shot Demark Ponder in the leg. The witness said he must’ve shot at least 28 rounds from the assault rifle. The witness says he shot Ponder in self-defense to protect his family.
“I was defending my family,” the witness explained. “That’s all I was worried about: my family. I don’t care about my life. I’m worried about my kids.”
His fiancée testified after him. During her testimony, Mitchell’s family stepped out of the courtroom in tears. The second witness took the stand, fighting through emotional tears as she described how the night in question went from tranquil to troubling.
“And the ones that just rushed in behind them that was coming in, they just went to fighting,” she said. “Then when they went to fighting, beer bottles went to breaking.”
She also describes Mitchell as one of her community “sons.”
“When they said, ‘Dominic’s been shot. Dominic’s been hit,’ that’s when I went screaming and I went to him, and he was laying over near the bar,” the second witness said.
Another witness, whose wife was in the Lady Strikers biker club was outside when the brawl began, says his military instincts kicked in once he heard gunshots inside the sports bar. He says his wife left her purse inside the bar. As he went to go get her purse, he saw a shocking discovery, similar to some of the sights he’d see on the battlefield.
“By the time I got into the back entrance of the bar, I saw the gentleman who was killed lying on the ground,” the third witness said. “I touched his neck to get a pulse. There wasn’t one, so I knew he was gone.”
A former sports bar employee might have been the most traumatized witness of the day. She saw the entire fight unfold. She says she spent months of intensive therapy trying to forget the night Mitchell died. She had just started at the sports bar a couple of weeks before the brawl. She hasn’t been back to the bar since that night.
A crime scene technician with the Columbus Police Department was the last witness to take the stand Tuesday. He explained how he collected evidence from vehicles involved in the shootout to name the suspects in the case.