FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) In 2018, there were 46 homicides in Fort Wayne with three of those deaths taking place on June 28 of that year.
It wasn’t until January 2023 that police made an arrest for the killings of Dernail Ivory Brown, 26, Deshaun Devon Richards, 25 and Breondon Devon Pinkston, 28; all shot around midnight at Fourth and Harrison streets on the city’s near north side.
Jacquail Belcher, now 30, is facing three murder charges and is set to go on trial Tuesday. The three day trial is scheduled to take place in Allen Superior Court with Judge Fran Gull presiding.
When police responded to the shooting they found Dernail Brown lying on the sidewalk. The Allen County Coroner ruled that he died from a gunshot wound to his back, a bullet that entered from the back and “exited out the front of Dernail’s chest,” according to a probable cause affidavit written by homicide detective Ben MacDonald.
The two other victims were inside a gray Chrysler 200 that blasted across Wells Street after Pinkston, and Richards were shot. The car wound up crashing into a car on Fourth Street outside The Pantry at the corner of Fourth and Wells.
Pinkston, the driver, died from multiple gunshots to the right side of his body while Richards, seated in the back seat behind the driver, died from a gunshot wound to the right side of his head, shot at close range. Pinkston was the only one taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A witness to the shooting at Harrison and Fourth said he saw a man was standing over who investigators now know was Brown shouting “Where is it? Where is it?” The suspect was shaking Brown and trying to flip him over, court documents said.
Then the witness said the suspect ran away. He had on a T-shirt, shorts, long braided hair down to the middle of his back and was wearing a flat bill hat.
Another witness told detectives he was in the area when he heard four gunshots. He saw a man get out of the passenger side of the vehicle and another man get out of the same side. He, too, saw the suspect get on top of the victim and then, watched as the gray Chrysler 200 crossed Wells street, strike a curb and crash into a parked car.
A detective matched surveillance video to the suspect, now said to be Belcher, running through a parking lot, crossing Cass Street and looking over his shoulder while on his cell phone.
During the continuing investigation, police took DNA swabs from the arm rest of the right rear passenger panel of the Chrysler 200 and those DNA tests matched Belcher’s DNA, court documents said.
Three months after the triple homicide, Belcher was the victim in a shooting. Photos of Belcher show his hair was cut off, leading detectives to believe he may have “altered his appearance” because he was the suspect in the serious crimes.
Additionally, police found Richards’ cell phone on the rear driver’s side floor of the Chrysler 200 that connected Belcher’s mother to the victim.
Ryan Gardner is the lead public defender on the case with attorney Gregory Miller, also defending Belcher next week. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille and Chief Counsel Tesa Helge will team up on the prosecution. The trial is expected to last three days.