FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — On Tuesday, many family members of three young men shot to death five years ago at Fourth and Harrison streets sat through hours of jury selection.
It’s likely they will be there every day this week, taking in all the testimony in the murder trial of Jacquail Belcher, 30, accused of gunning down their loved ones and for what reason?
“That’s what I want to know. I don’t know why he killed all these people,” Evonda Pinkston, mother of Breondon Pinkston, said.
Jacquail Belcher, now 30, is accused of killing Dernail Ivory Brown, 26, Pinkston, 28, and Deshaun Devon Richards, 25, on June 28, 2018 a few minutes past midnight.
During jury selection Tuesday, Tesa Helge, chief counsel for the Allen County Prosecutor’s office, didn’t give a motive for the three homicides, but said evidence collected over the years made for a strong case. The one who survived long enough to give some evidence – Pinkston – described some of his shooter’s clothing.
Helge said there’s forensic evidence on the trajectory of a bullet and DNA recovered from the gray Chrysler 300 where at least two of the victims were shot.
Police say Brown was shot in the back as he collapsed on the sidewalk or the pavement on Fourth Street. The bullet exited his front. As he lay on the ground, Belcher is accused of shaking him as he attempted to flip him over and shouting “where is it? Where is it?”
The “where is it?” is something the families want answered.
The other two were apparently shot while they were in the Chrysler. Pinkston was driving and Richards was seated behind him in the passenger seat.
One family member said in the hallway that she heard the confrontation may have been “over some words,” and Belcher got offended.
“We ain’t been the same since,” said Tonda Rogers, Brown’s mother. Both she and her husband, Daniel Rogers, call him “Ivory,” his middle name. “He hurt us. My baby is gone.”
It was Daniel who told the four boys to leave the house the morning of June 27 because he didn’t want the older boys around younger kids at the house. The four of them, including Belcher, went across the street to play basketball.
But neither Evonda Pinkston nor Tonda Rogers said they knew Belcher.
Pinkston left behind three sons and Brown had a daughter, according to the families who were interviewed Tuesday.
“He was an awesome father,” said Pinkston’s brother, Demetri Payton. The mother of his youngest son, Aly Ferguson, said she’s told the 5-year-old that his dad is in heaven.
“But he doesn’t understand it,” Ferguson said.
Antonesia James, mother of Pinkston’s two oldest boys, said she’d never heard of Belcher.
James said the two boys will attend the trial.
“He was the peacemaker of the family,” James said.
Defense attorney Ryan Gardner said the prosecution’s witnesses gave varying descriptions of Belcher’s appearance, one of them incorrectly identifying Belcher as “dark-skinned,” when the jury would be able to easily see that isn’t the case.
Helge read a long list of witnesses the prosecution will put on the stand, including lead homicide detective Ben MacDonald.
In a trend this year, the defense may put the defendant on the stand.
The trial will resume Wednesday.