Jury set to deliberate Tuesday following closing arguments in 4th Quarter Sports Bar murder trial

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A jury now holds the fate of three defendants accused of murdering a Columbus man. The judge is set to charge the jury Tuesday in the 4th Quarter Sports Bar murder trial. The state and defense gave closing arguments, hoping to convince the jury to decide guilty or not guilty.

Prosecutor Ray Daniels argues the state's case against three defendants charged in the 2015 4th Quarter Sports Bar murder.
Prosecutor Ray Daniels argues the state’s case against three defendants charged in the 2015 4th Quarter Sports Bar murder.

Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker opened up the closing arguments Monday with the theme “gone in 45 seconds.” He made a variation on the popular movie title to convince the jury 48-year-old Demark Ponder, 53-year-old Daginald Wheeler, and 36-year-old James Daniel, Jr. played a part in shooting 33-year-old Dominic Mitchell.

Whitaker asked how Mitchell could be killed so quickly, suggesting the biker gang-related brawl was planned from the start. He added even if Ponder didn’t mean to shoot Mitchell, he had the intent to harm during the brawl.

“And Dominic Mitchell was gone, gone in 45 seconds,” Whitaker said. “The defense will have you think that all that happened without a plan?”

Though the defense claims Ponder shot in self-defense, prosecutor Ray Daniels says it’s clear that malice murder could be applied to this case.

“The victim is dead and he’s running out the door,” Daniels explained. “The defendant Ponder attempted to kill Dominic Mitchell because he pointed and shot him twice…pointed. That’s malice!”

The defense claims each of the men accused were normal guys, they worked regular jobs, or owned a business.

“Because he wasn’t a threat,” attorney Dorothy Williams said about her client James Daniel, Jr. “And you know why he wasn’t a threat? Because he was not involved in anything there. He can only be convicted of being a good friend and Samaritan.”

The defense believes the prosecution has not fully covered all the facts in this murder trial. They pointed out several holes they think could lead to not guilty verdicts for all three defendants. The defense adds the state has holes in their arguments.

“You’re looking for the truth in everything,” attorney Stacey Jackson, representing Daginald Wheeler, said. “There shouldn’t be gaps or any pieces of the puzzle that are missing.”

Attorney Rod Skiff, who represents Demark Ponder, says the prosecution doesn’t have the evidence to say his client was involved in a 2015 brawl at the 4th Quarter Sports Bar.

“It is their job,” Skiff exclaimed. “It is the government’s job, the state’s job to make it add up if they want to convict people of murder.”

Jackson tried to counter the state’s argument that his client orchestrated the brawl.

“So where’s this plethora of information because with parties of a crime you have to counsel, tell someone to do something,” Jackson said. “They could spend $70,000 on 3D imaging, but they can’t find one text message where Mr. Wheeler told someone to do something.”

Meanwhile, the state is still focused on the deadly violence that broke out in such a public place, which spilled outside and causing chaos.

“I can’t say that these men are monsters,” Ray Daniels said. “But I can say they’ve done some monstrous activities, and they should be held accountable for them.”

The judge will charge the jury Tuesday morning, listing each charge for all the defendants. The jury will then deliberate to reach a verdict. Stay with News 3 for the jury’s decision.

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