Surviving victim was intended target
The surviving 19-year-old victim in the triple slaying at the Baker Civic Club shooting last month was actually the intended target, a prosecutor said Monday during a hearing in the case against the 16-year-old Scotlandville High School slaying suspect.
The three victims killed in the shooting were “innocent bystanders,” East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Prosecutor Curtis Nelson Jr. said.
A juvenile court judge ruled at the end of the four-hour hearing that prosecutors can try Nakeydran Williams in adult court on first-degree murder and other counts in the three fatal shootings and the wounding of Javaughn Simmons, the intended target who was shot in the jaw.
East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Richey’s decision came after police and sheriff’s detectives testified three witnesses, including Williams’ 15-year-old girlfriend, identified him as the shooter inside the crowded March 28 birthday party and rap concert.
But the girl, identified in court only by her initials J.H. because she is a juvenile, testified Monday she only identified her boyfriend because she was pressured by detectives.
“I didn’t see the shooter, period,” J.H. testified.
“She wants to be loyal to Nakeydran,” Nelson argued to Richey.
The detectives, Baker police Lt. Greg Brown and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s Lt. Leonardo Moore, denied coercing the girl and said it was she who contacted authorities.
Williams is accused of three counts of first-degree murder, and one count each of attempted first-degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm.
The late-night shooting left three teens — Marcell Franklin and Kendal Dorsey, both 15, and Diontrey Claiborne, 18 — dead. Each was shot in the head. Simmons, 19, suffered a gunshot to the jaw.
“To me it’s very close range,” District Attorney Hillar Moore III said of how close the victims were to the shooter. He made the statement after the probable cause hearing.
The detectives revealed Monday that Simmons was the intended target, and that the murder weapon — a .38-caliber or .357-caliber revolver — has not been recovered.
Relatives of the victims packed Richey’s courtroom and smiled as they left the courthouse.
It was disclosed during the probable cause hearing that Williams, who sat in a green juvenile prison jumpsuit with his grandmother to his left and attorney Erika Green to his right, is a Scotlandville High School student, lives with his grandmother and is known to his friends as “Scrappy.”
Richey concluded at the end of the hearing that prosecutors established probable cause to try Williams in state District Court in Baton Rouge.
She ordered that Williams, who has been held in juvenile prison since his March 29 arrest, be moved to East Baton Rouge Parish Prison to stand trial.
Hillar Moore and Nelson said Williams would be transferred to Parish Prison either Monday night or Tuesday at the latest.
The district attorney said the case against Williams will be presented to a grand jury once the investigation into the shootings is complete.
“The matter will proceed as if he were an adult,” he said.
However, if found guilty of first-degree murder, Williams would not be eligible for the death penalty because of his age. The stiffest sentence he could receive is life in prison without benefit of parole.
Brown testified that detectives were led to Williams by a juvenile female, identified in court as A.M., who attended the Baker Civic Club party and later sent social media messages to the party’s host identifying “Nakeydran Thomas” as the shooter. She also texted a photo of the alleged shooter.
The juvenile, who had gone to school with Williams since the seventh grade, later told detectives she provided a false last name for Williams because she was afraid.
Leonardo Moore said a school administrator at Scotlandville High identified the photo as Williams.
A.M. told detectives that Simmons was bothering a lot of people at the party, Brown testified.
“At some point he (Simmons) came and got in Nakeydran’s face,” Brown said, referring to A.M.’s statement to authorities. “He (Williams) reached in his waistband, produced a handgun and started shooting.”
Alvin Mott, who also was at the party, told detectives that Williams “must have been on something,” Brown added.
Prosecutors disclosed Monday that Williams and Mott have a previous arrest together on a gun-related offense.
When Williams was brought in for questioning, he identified the shooter as someone named “Trey,” Brown testified, but Williams could give no description or other information about the person.
“He kept denying he was involved,” Brown said.
Williams’ girlfriend initially told detectives she didn’t see the shooter, but later said she saw Williams fire his gun once.
She also identified Mott as a second shooter.
Brown said the victims’ autopsies revealed each was shot by the same revolver.
Donnie Cavalier, who stands accused of firing two shots into the ground outside the party while helping to provide security for the event, testified Monday he fired the shots “to clear the parking lot” in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting inside the club.
Cavalier, 24, said he probably searched more than 50 people before they went into the civic club but does not recall searching Williams.