DAVENPORT, Iowa — A witness in the murder trial of Deondra Thomas placed the defendant at the crime scene the night of a deadly shooting incident in Davenport last June.
Thomas, 37, is charged with the first-degree murder of 46-year-old Jason Roberts, a community activist who died after suffering gunshot wounds outside the MVP Bar in Downtown Davenport early June 9, 2018.
Testifying on the second day of trial, a witness says he was sitting inside a car parked outside the MVP Bar in the early hours of the night in question when he saw people coming out in a commotion.
He says he saw “Deondra getting aggressive and reaching out.” The witness lifted his arm mimicking the drawing of a gun. He says he saw Jason Roberts come over and step between Thomas and several others in an apparent attempt to break up the fight.
“(Deondra) pulled back and arms reached. Bang bang! And people scattered.”
Roberts’ family and friends, who packed the Scott County courtroom, were seen wiping away tears.
Still, the man was a reluctant witness.
“I don’t wanna be involved in this. I don’t wanna be here. I don’t like the cops, I don’t even like helping you out, do y’alls job. I’ve had run-ins with the police before so I don’t really want to do this,” he said. “I understand what happened is a good guy, or an innocent guy, losing his life over a stupidity.”
He says he spoke to Roberts’ family, who told him to do the right thing.
Thomas’ defense attorney, Jack Dusthimer, zeroed in on the witness’s reluctance to come forward immediately. “How long did you go avoid the police,” he asked.
“I guess I’ve been avoiding them my whole life,” he said.
Dusthimer also honed in the witness having misidentified the defendant as “Thompson” several times during police interviews, leading to a testy exchange with the witness.
“I don’t even know how to spell his name,” he declared at one point, but maintained he had known Thomas for more than 20 years.
He told jurors that prior to the night of the murder, Thomas showed him a handgun at a barbershop. The witness said Thomas told him, “if anybody look at him wrong, he’ll blast them.”
Crime scene investigators testifying Thursday say they found three shell casings at the scene.