Prosecutors told a jury Tuesday that one of two local teens on trial in a 2010 school bus stop shooting admitted firing the weapon and named his co-defendant as manning a stolen truck during the nonfatal drive-by.
But defense attorneys John McDougal and Galen Pickard said police got the statement from defendant Darius Gustus while the teen was suffering from a head wound in a local hospital and on medication.
Gustus and Lonta Burress Jr. are on trial on charges including aggravated assault and evading arrest in connection with the Dec. 7, 2010, shooting. No one was injured in the shooting.
Their trial enters its second day this morning before Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.
McDougal questioned the evidence gathered by police and to be presented by prosecutors Cameron Williams and Bret Alexander.
"All they have is speculation is that they caught two young black men who had been in the area," McDougal told the jury. "And they got [Gustus] in the hospital after he had medicine."
Williams referred to a 10-minute police car video camera recording that he will play for the jury showing a stolen red Ford F-150 pickup police say Burress drove as Gustus fired at students exiting the bus.
Burress was arrested in connection with a 2010 Coolidge Park shooting along with two other defendants. Charges were dismissed in Juvenile Court when a key witness changed his story about that shooting.
Six months after the school bus shooting, on June 1, 2011, police say Burress shot and killed Darius Townsend while free on bond awaiting trial in the school bus shooting.
A grand jury indicted Burress on that first-degree murder charge. The trial date in that killing is pending the outcome of the current trial.
Both Burress and Gustus are in custody awaiting trial.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...