Sixth shooting suspect convicted

Published 8:33 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COURTLAND—Jadon Artis, the sixth and final suspect in the September 2008 attempted robbery and shooting of a Franklin man, was convicted Tuesday in Southampton County Circuit Court for his role in the crime.

Chief Circuit Court Judge Westbrook J. Parker found Artis guilty of attempted robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of attempted robbery, discharging a firearm in public, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and the use of a firearm in the commission of aggravated malicious wounding.

“This case proves exactly what happens when guns, drugs and greed are involved,” Parker said before he announced his decision in the case.

Artis’ trial, which started Friday, concluded Tuesday morning after Artis’ brother and cousin both testified on his behalf. Both men said they saw Artis the night of the shooting, but couldn’t account for his whereabouts at the exact time of the shooting. They also said that Artis didn’t have a gun.

Timothy Warren, the now-paraplegic victim of the crime, testified Friday that he saw the five men who had already been convicted in the shooting, but couldn’t make out the sixth person — he only knew that they had dreadlocks and build similar to Artis’.

“Mr. Artis did not have dreadlocks at the time,” said Wallace Brittle, Artis’ attorney. “This is a mistaken identity case. Mr. Artis was not involved in this crime.”

Brittle pointed to the testimony of Daremus Lewis, who pleaded guilty to charges connected to the crime last week. Lewis testified that Artis wasn’t involved in the crime.

“He has no reason to lie,” Brittle said of Lewis. “I can’t do anything for him.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke said Artis’ credibility was an issue. He said Artis lied to investigators and was known to associate with the other five men convicted in the crime.

“This case comes down to what witnesses you believe,” Cooke said. “(Artis) was perfectly willing to lie to law enforcement about his whereabouts.”

However, Brittle argued that the inmate witnesses for the prosecution testified hoping that “the commonwealth would look favorably” on their cases.

“We’ve definitely had a cast of characters testify in this case,” Parker said.

While Parker agreed that inmate witnesses are always “looking to get a break,” he said the two inmate witnesses who testified for the prosecution both corroborated the same story about Artis admitting that he had a gun and was involved in the crime. Artis allegedly told the inmates that he thought he would be able to get off because none of his bullets hit the victim.

Artis is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 23 for a pre-sentencing hearing.

Four men, Anterrio Bradley, Duray Hudson, Vernon Winstead and Dominick Smallwood, have already been sentenced for their roles in the crime.

Lewis’ sentencing, like Artis’, is scheduled for next year.

All six men were charged in connection with the shooting and attempted robbery of Warren, who was found by police in the 400 block of Washington Street, bleeding heavily, according to Franklin police spokesman Lt. Tim Whitt.

Police believe the shooters may have been affiliated with a gang.