A local man walked free this week after murder charges against him were dismissed.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Quantae Jackson, 29, was charged last year with the July 4 shooting death of Calvin Keys, 27, of Fort Wayne. He was also charged with attempted murder for another man gravely wounded during the same homicide.
His trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
On Friday, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the charges stating that “the State cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt at this time.” The motion was approved by Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull Monday and Jackson was released the same day.
Efforts to reach the prosecutor’s office were unsuccessful. However, Robert Scremin, Jackson’s attorney, said some witness statements amounted to hearsay.
The case “ didn’t necessarily fall apart,” Scremin said. “Hearsay statements make their way into a probable cause affidavit that can never be used in a trial. When witnesses come forward and give sworn testimony and sworn statements at a deposition, that might not be consistent with what was going on earlier.”
Scremin said his office was pleased that charges were dismissed.
“When law enforcement is drafting up a probable cause affidavit or getting an arrest warrant, hearsay evidence is allowed in situations like that. Sometimes, some of the information related in those probable cause affidavits (is) not allowed to be used in a jury trial.
“Once my office gets involved in a case, we’re also allowed to conduct an investigation. We go out and take sworn statements from witnesses. When law enforcement is talking to people, they’re not necessarily taking sworn statements. So the combination of that information now at this point has apparently led to the state dismissing the charges,” Scremin said.
‘You’ve got 10 seconds to run’ victim was told
According to the probable cause affidavit submitted by homicide detective Brian Martin, phone records put Jackson at the home where Keys was shot in the backyard, a residence at 4714 S. Calhoun St. Neighborhood video surveillance shows two vehicles coming through the alley, one a silver gray car and the other a white SUV, later traced to one of Jackson’s relatives.
Keys’ phone shows he made two phone calls to Jackson at 8:27 p.m. and 8:34 p.m. that night.
Also, at 8:34 p.m., Keys sent a text message to someone that said “Please don’t have all of them pull up over here after all that **** happened. El just said that Quantae is pulling up with his family.”
Fort Wayne police were called at 8:46 p.m. Keys pronounced dead at the scene and another victim was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, court records said.
Police cited several witnesses, one of whom described the terror Keys experienced as the shooters pulled out their guns.
“You got 10 seconds to run,” one of the shooters reportedly said. The other unnamed victim who survived the shooting stated that the men were in their 30s and were angry about a shooting that took place about a half hour earlier at a block party at Colerick and Hanna streets. When the men arrived at the South Calhoun residence, a witness said the men appeared to know Keys because they “shook up,” referring to the way they greeted him.
The victim said one of the men “just started to shoot” and identified Jackson from two separate photo arrays provided as the man who gave the 10-second warning.
Another male witness told detectives that he saw Jackson, another man and an unknown man arrive in two separate vehicles, one a white Trailblazer. He reported having a “bad feeling about what was going to happen,” court documents said.
That witness recalled Jackson telling Keys “you have to the count of 10” and then the shooting started. He believed Keys’ shooting was retaliation for what occurred at the earlier block party.
A month and a half after Keys was killed, Martin and his partner, Ben MacDonald, tracked down the other shooting victim at a rehab center to speak to him again. The victim recalled someone saying prior to the shooting that the guy from the block party was going to come over to talk. The block party guy was “very heated,” about what happened because his kids were there when the shooting took place, court documents said.
He said even though he heard the shooter give the 10-second warning, that’s not what happened.
“He just started to shoot,” he said. He was able to give a description of the two shooters, both of them “short.” At the rehab center, he eventually identified Jackson as the one who shot him and Keys.
The other man implicated in the shooting had a phone call with his brother held at the Noble County Jail. Detective Liza Anglin overheard a conversation between the two brothers about the block party shooting. The brother tells his incarcerated sibling that he’s left Fort Wayne and “logged over 1,000 miles,” court documents said. One witness stated that the suspect lives in Atlanta and is Jackson’s brother.
It’s not clear if Jackson’s brother was ever arrested. Charges could be refiled in future.