A witness in the Deondra Thomas murder trial testified on Friday that Thomas told him he'd shot someone in June while they were at a bar.
Thomas, 37, of Davenport, is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm or offensive weapon by a felon in connection with the shooting of Jason Roberts, 46, of Davenport, according to authorities. The shooting happened about 2 a.m. June 9 in the 800 block of W. 4th Street in Davenport.
Prosecutors contend the shooting occurred when Roberts attempted to calm a group of quarreling people at a bar, and Thomas, who was taking part in the altercation, shot him. Thomas, the state argues, then fled the area as a passenger in a maroon SUV.
Delmont Thomas, the defendant's cousin, testified Deondra made the statement while they were talking shortly after Roberts was killed. Deondra told his cousin that someone had put their hands on him, so he shot them, but did not identify the person shot by name.
Delmont, during questioning by the prosecution and the defense, said that in the hours before the shooting he drove himself and Deondra to the bar in a maroon 1999 GMC Yukon that belonged to Delmont's girlfriend.
During the outing, Delmont drank four or five shots, but did not think he was inebriated, he testified Friday.
After awhile, Delmont got some food and was eating it in the Yukon in the bar's parking lot, he testified. As he ate, he was using his phone to watch videos.
Then he heard two or three gunshots and saw people running, Delmont told the jury. He said he did not know exactly where the gunshots had happened, but knew they were in the parking lot of the bar.
He was trying to locate Deondra, but did not see him until Deondra was a few feet from the Yukon, Delmont testified. Deondra got into the Yukon's passenger side and Delmont testified he then drove himself and Deondra away. As they were leaving, he looked in the rear view mirror and saw people tending to a fallen person he recognized as Roberts.
As they were leaving the bar, Delmont asked Deondra what happened, but during this first exchange, Deondra said only that someone had put his hands on him, Delmont said from the stand on Friday. Deondre said nothing about shooting as they left in the Yukon.
After that, they fell quiet, and Delmont drove Deondra home.
Once he dropped Deondra off, Delmont testified, he got his girlfriend's other vehicle because he wanted to go back to the bar and find out what happened. When he got down there, he saw a large police presence and turned around.
Before heading back to the bar, he told his girlfriend to move the Yukon off the street, Delmont testified. He was not sure what Deondre had been involved, and feared retaliation. He told the jury the Yukon got moved at least a few more times.
Delmont told the jury he was scared and did not want to be involved in the case, and when police first approached him, did not tell the truth about what he knew. Delmont eventually did tell the police about the events he testified about on Friday.
The burden of proof in the case is the prosecution's. Scott County Attorney Mike Walton and Amy DeVine, first assistant county attorney, have presented numerous witnesses this week, including evidence technicians that discussed what was recovered at the scene, people who said they were at the bar that night and placed Delmont and Deondra Thomas there, and police officers who told the jury about initial attempts to save Roberts life and the information they gathered from people at the scene.
Jack Dusthimer, Thomas’ defense attorney, has declined to comment on whether he intended to put his own witnesses on the stand or whether Deondra Thomas wished to testify. As the defense attorney, he is not required to put on such a defense, but can if he or his client wants. Regardless, Dusthimer can and has cross-examined the state's witnesses in the case.
He has argued there are inconsistencies in the accounts of the various witnesses being used by the prosecution which cast doubt on how the shooting unfolded or who carried it out.
His cross-examination has included questioning witnesses about differences between statements they have given to authorities or to him over the course of the case and how the wind and rain that morning altered the position of some materials at crime scene.
The trial, which began with jury selection on Monday, is scheduled to last nine days.
When the proceeding ended on Friday, the jury was watching a video deposition about the results of the autopsy performed on Roberts. The jurors had not finished, and that review is expected to continue Jan. 14.