FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It took a jury more than 5 1/2 hours to find Donte Curry not guilty of a reportedly murder-for-hire homicide on a snowy night in November 2015.
But Curry, who made judge and jury wait for about 20 minutes before he arrived in the courtroom, was as relaxed as ever when the not guilty verdict passed the lips of Superior Court Judge David Zent.
Curry turned to shake hands with lead defense attorney Robert Scremin before a court security officer suggested the attorney escort Curry from the building to his vehicle. That was fine with Curry as well, he said.
For Lynette Scroggins, the mother of Harold Von Harrington- who was killed around 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 2015 as he sat in his 2002 Ford Taurus listening to music- the verdict was a blow.
“I just can’t believe it. That’s all I’ve got to say,” she said.
Curry told WANE 15 that as a musician specializing in gangsta rap, there would be a new release coming.
“I’ve been saying from the jump, it’s not about the evidence, but it wasn’t me,” Curry said.
During closing arguments Thursday morning, James Posey, Allen County deputy prosecutor leading the defense with deputy prosecutor Jon Nimmo, told the jury that the FBI evidence could have been better. Agent Kelly Jay Stewart had a slew of bank robberies during that time, and some of the notes and evidence were written down and recorded and some were not.
Scremin and the lead defense attorney aided by public defender Sean Arata threw doubt on a recorded gun buy with Patrick Davis, a friend of Curry’s who said he drove him to the deadly encounter and then arranged to buy the murder weapon. Stewart accompanied him, but the recording inside a home on South Park Drive picked up four voices.
And the ISP trooper, Rob Smith, who sat in a pickup truck in an alley, identified Curry from a photocopied image that Scremin said could have been unreliable.
Scremin also said there was no DNA evidence linking Curry to the homicide, nor surveillance video from equipment like a Ring doorbell.
But his greatest criticism was for the two “snitches” who gave evidence against Curry. Davis, now serving time at a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona on a federal sex crime, claimed he unwittingly drove Curry to Harrington’s home on Central Avenue, believing it to be a marijuana deal. When he saw Curry walk up to the driver’s side window and unload seven bullets into the driver’s side window where Harrington was listening to music on his earbuds, he took off.
Davis, who testified about his experience, but also blabbed about other unsolved Fort Wayne homicides on the witness stand, got a year off of his seven-year sentence for his efforts.
Cedric Edwards, who claimed to have overheard Davis and Curry talking about the “murder for hire” homicide of Harrington as the three of them were incarcerated on the A and B blocks of the Allen County Jail, had his two-year sentence for escaping lawful detention suspended for two years on probation.
Posey dismissed that criticism as “ridiculous,” seeing as how the sentence reductions weren’t that meaningful. Both Davis, after he serves his time, and Edwards face retaliation for testifying against Curry, he said.
“Their hood pass is gone,” he said. “It’s open season.”
Posey showed his typical humor, trying to convince the jury that the two convicted individuals were legitimate.
“They live in a different world,” Posey explained, adding there’s “great risk in the streets.”
“Why would he come in and lie to you, and put himself in great danger?” Posey asked.
“I’m not asking you to give him the Sagamore of the Wabash,” Posey said, referencing the highest civilian state honor awarded only by Indiana’s governor. “The truth for a deal does not mean they’re really lying.”