COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A man facing the death penalty for allegedly gunning down his ex-girlfriend and another woman in broad daylight, made his first court appearance this morning.
Columbus Police detectives told the court that Quartez Tremon Thomas was angry about his girlfriend, Kiera Williams, breaking up with him two weeks earlier. And that was the motive for him allegedly shooting Williams and her friend, Jasmine Trice to death on March 1 in the parking lot of the Floyd Road Family Dollar.
Police say that Williams’ 6-year-old daughter was in the backseat of the vehicle that Thomas fired a handgun into. That child identified Thomas as the gunman to witnesses that helped get her out of the car and into the store for safety.
“The child had already stated that a male subject by the name of ‘Tre’ had done the shooting,” lead Detective Sherman Hayes told Recorder’s Court Judge Julius Hunter. “And the statement was heard by witnesses and several police officers.”
Hayes testified that there had been “an ongoing dispute” between Thomas and Williams.
Thomas is also charged with firing shots into Williams’ parents’ home on Buxton Drive the night before the fatal shooting.
Detective Christy Truitt interviewed Williams 30 minutes prior to the shooting at the Family Dollar. During that phone interview about the previous night’s shooting, Williams expressed concern about her safety, police say.
Hayes testified that cell phone records put Thomas on Buxton Drive at the time of that shooting and at the Family Dollar at 4 p.m. on March when Williams and Trice were shot.
The stolen vehicle that Thomas fled the scene in was captured by road cameras crossing the Oglethorpe Bridge into Phenix City 11 minutes after the Family Dollar shooting.
Members of Williams family told police that before news of Kiera’s death became public, Thomas had texted them asking how she was doing, according to court testimony. He also offered to take care of the child who was a witness to the crime, Hayes told the court.
Thomas was apprehended early the next morning at the Colonial Inn in Phenix City. An anonymous 9-1-1 caller led police to the suspect, Hayes told the court.
“The caller said, ‘The gentleman who shot the two females is in room 141 at the Colonial Inn,’” Hayes told the court.
The caller then hung up. During an interview with police, Williams’ daughter told detectives that she and her mother had stayed with Thomas at that motel.
Thomas had altered his appearance between the time of the shooting and his arrest, Hayes told the court. He said the suspect had shaved most of the hair off his head and shaved a thick beard.
Judge Julius Hunter ordered Thomas held without bound and sent the case to Superior Court.
It took nearly four weeks for the initial hearing because District Attorney Mark Jones had previously said the state will seek the death penalty against Thomas.
Thomas is being represented by the Capital Public Defenders Office in Atlanta. The hearing was delayed twice to allow his attorneys to appear on his behalf.
Lead attorney Jerlyn Bell declined comment after the hearing.