WATERLOO — The man behind the wheel in a 2016 drive-by shooting that killed a Waterloo man and injured two others told jurors he was forced to drive at gunpoint.
Jacques Dominique Williamson said his three passengers pointed guns at him; one in the backseat of his Chevrolet Tahoe pressed a gun to his head.
“I felt it … back center,” Williamson said Monday as the trial for Armand Rollins, Shavondes Martin and Doncorrion Spates got underway.
Spates, 17, Martin, 22, and Rollins, 18, are charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a weapon in the June 17, 2016, shooting outside 817 Logan Ave. that claimed the life of Otavious Brown, 21, and injured Dewon Campbell Jr. and Aundrey Roberts Jr.
Openings and testimony began Monday after Judge Brad Harris dismissed defense motions challenging the racial makeup of the jury.
Williamson, 26, of Waterloo, said in the hour leading up to the shooting he had been visiting an acquaintance at 520 Elm St., and when he left to go to a store Spates, Martin and Rollins asked to tag along.
They bought soda at Prime Mart on Broadway Street, and Williamson said he had a bottle of Hennessy cognac. He said they headed down Edwards Street, and he planned to return his passengers to Elm Street. But when they approached the T intersection with Logan Avenue, the passengers saw someone they had a beef with and told him to turn left, toward the group instead of right as he intended.
That’s when one of the backseat passenger pressed a gun to his head, and others pointed guns at him. He said wasn’t able to tell what type of guns were used, although one of the weapons had a laser sight.
After traveling a block or so north on Logan, Martin, the front seat passenger, fired out the driver’s window into a crowd of people, Williamson said.
“Mr. Martin shot once, and the rest of the shots came from the backseat,” Williamson said. “He shot from the passenger seat over me.”
He said his window was already down because the vehicle’s air conditioning wasn’t working.
Assistant County Attorney James Katcher said investigators found four spent .45-caliber shell casings at the scene and spent 10 mm shells wedged beside the seats and center console in Williamson’s Tahoe.
Defense attorneys said Williamson’s account isn’t believable.
“He is the state’s main witness that puts together what happened in front of 817 Logan. This is a case where you assess the credibility of witnesses,” said Melissa Anderson-Seeber, who is representing Rollins.
John Bishop, who is representing Spates, said Williamson also had been charged with murder but agreed to testify as part of a deal to receive lesser charges.
Defense attorney Cory Goldensoph, who is representing Martin, said a witness at the scene told police it was the driver who fired the first shot, not a passenger.
Moments after the shooting, Williamson attempted to cover his tracks by phoning police to report his Tahoe had been stolen and used in a shooting after he parked it at a Logan Avenue convenience store, Bishop said. When confronted by the fact the Logan Avenue store’s security camera didn’t show the theft, Williamson changed the location of the vehicle theft, Bishop said. He said it wasn’t until Williamson was arrested for murder that he came up with the account he had been forced to drive to the shooting.
The defense attorney also noted after the shooting, surveillance cameras show Williamson returned to Elm Street — where he originally met the people he said threatened him with guns.
Williamson told jurors he returned to tell Spates’ grandmother, Dorothy Spates, about the threats.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to continue today.