COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Ty-Shaun Sylvester and Jessie Harper are facing murder, drug, and gun charges in connection with Quincey Atkins’ 2020 shooting death off Cusseta Road in Columbus.
And Tuesday the State ran into two reluctant witnesses against the co-defendants.
Dwayne Jackson and Anthony McGhee were in the car when Harper and Sylvester allegedly robbed and killed Atkins on April 18, 2020. Both Jackson and McGee were allegedly robbed. They both ran from the scene as the shooting started.
The two were the key to the state’s case and they were each reluctant witnesses.
They were attempting to purchase a semiautomatic weapon from Sylvester. Jackson testified he had arranged for the purchase of the gun with Sylvester.
Currently in jail on other charges, Jackson appeared was slow to answer prosecution questions. When asked who was on the scene, he asked to speak to his attorney, Shevon Thomas, Sr., who was in the courtroom.
Judge John Martin removed the jury from the courtroom and allowed Thomas to talk to Jackson. At one point, Martin said he did not want to know what Thomas was telling his client. Thomas responded, “I am just going to tell him to tell the truth.”
Eventually, Jackson identified Harper and Sylvester as the men who robbed them. He said the shooting began and he could not tell the jury who was doing the shooting.
But he said Atkins, himself, and McGhee did not have guns.
Here is an exchange Jackson had under cross-examination from Sylvester’s defense attorney William Kendrick.
Kendrick: “You didn’t tell Mr. Sylvester anything about that did you?”
Jackson: “Mr. Sylvester did not tell me nothing about Jessie Harper supposed to be there.”
Kendrick: “You didn’t say anything about Quincey Atkins having a gun on him?”
Jackson: “I never seen a gun.”
Kendrick: “You have never seen this clip?”
Jackson: “I have never seen no gun. There was no gun in the car. … We hadn’t put up no fight. We ain’t harmed nobody in no way. We gave them everything they asked for. And my homeboy was still kilt for no reason.”
Jackson told the court that they did not put up a fight because they knew they were on somebody else’s “turf.”
Kendrick alluded to the gang connection in his opening statement.
“Should you believe who would characterize today, as the surviving victims, Mr. Duane Jackson and Anthony McGhee?” Kendrick said. “Or could they be something else? Evidence is going show they could be felons, gang members, right?”
While Jackson did eventually answer questions, McGhee gave prosecutors the silent treatment. He would be asked a question about specifics of the shooting and he would wait 20, 30, 40 seconds without saying a word.”
The day started with opening statements.
Here is what Prosecutor Sadhana Dailey told the jury.
“During this armed robbery, they shot him and killed him,” she said. “Quincy Atkins was trying to drive away from the armed robbery. They fired into his car. Both of them had guns. They fired into this car and shot him in the back.”
Pictures of the Dodge sedan with the back window shot out were introduced into evidence. Atkins drove the can into a house near Cusseta Road and Betjeman Drive as he was dying from the gunshot wounds.
William Kendrick/Sylvester’s defense attorney
“Should you believe who would characterize today, as the surviving victims, Mr. Duane Jackson and Anthony McGhee? Or could they be something else? Evidence is going show they could be felons, gang members, right?
Dailey: Objection, your honor.
Kendrick: “That is what I expect the evidence to show. They are going to be on the stand.”