FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –Sometimes it’s necessary to sit through several days of a trial before witnesses, evidence and testimony fit together and make sense.
That’s been the case with the murder trial of 30-year-old DeMaury Haywood, accused of shooting to death an innocent and beloved local barber, Diasha “Twink” Fitts, in an ambush on Winchester at Lower Huntington roads on Feb. 19.
Brandon Golden, driving the van, was apparently the target as the two friends drove away after a fun night at the Fraternal Order of Eagles charity casino on Bluffton Road in Waynedale.
Texts revealed in a probable cause affidavit that the wheelchair-bound alleged accomplice, Trevon Giddens, tipped Haywood off inside the casino as to what Golden was wearing and doing, the casino hours and casino security, which turned out to be 15 to 18 nonstop cameras inside and out.
But that night, Giddens told Haywood in text messages, that “no one was watching the cameras,” and then wheeled himself outside to report the kind of van Golden was driving.
At 11: 24 p.m., Golden and Fitts cashed out and were on the road. The ambush took place at 11:25-11:26 p.m., a hail fire of bullets that left shell casings and glass shards from the van’s passenger side window all over the intersection. Haywood and Devonte Travier are both charged with murder in the shooting death of Fitts. Travier has his trial scheduled in March.
Some of the more interesting testimony came from a witness who was deposed but refused to appear in court for fear of his life. The witness was a casino regular he said in a deposition read in court with Chief Counsel Tesa Helge and Haywood’s defense attorney Robert Scremin reading their parts. He always patronized the Eagles with his gambling buddy, Trevon Giddens, the man accused of working from the inside so Haywood could waylay Golden like a highwayman.
And he was there on Feb. 19.
Playing the role of the witness was Andre Carrasquillo, an investigator with the Allen County Prosecutor’s office. Reading the deposition out loud was a compromise by the court after Scremin objected to the witness ducking the subpoena.
The witness, who told the court he would plead the Fifth Amendment if he was forced to testify, had some insight into the dynamics of these friendships, none of the information appearing to help Haywood’s case.
“If I knew that was happening, I wouldn’t have been there that night,” the witness said, denying any knowledge of the plot. The witness said Haywood normally didn’t even talk to him because “he don’t really mess with new people.”
That said, the witness said one of Haywood’s cousins was the mother of his children, although he didn’t mention if she was the mother of all five. After the shooting, the witness had a conversation with Haywood who told him, “he didn’t want Trevon (Giddens) to roll on it,” which meant confessing his role to the cops.
Later in the deposition, the witness said Haywood “wasn’t somebody you can play with,” meaning fool or cross.
“If you do something, X me out,” the witness related saying to the others involved in the crime. “I got five homeboys. I got five kids. I love my boys to death. I’m trying to live a long life for my boys.”
Then he dropped the bombshell, finally giving some kind of reason for targeting Golden.
“The word on the street (was) he had money on his head,” the witness said. Golden, who is serving a 60-day misdemeanor sentence for possession of marijuana at the Huntington County Jail, testified in court Tuesday, wearing prison stripes and chains.
Forensics also helped the jurors understand the case. There are four vehicles to keep track of, each of them playing a role in the crime.
The first vehicle is the van Golden was driving. In the ambush, a 9mm gunshot through the open passenger side window of a rented 2021 gray Nissan Versa pierced the tempered glass of the van’s passenger side window where Fitts was seated. But the bullet threw back shards, some of which landed on the pavement and others which were propelled back into the Nissan, according to testimony from Alan Garriott, FWPD’s lead crime scene technician.
When the Nissan Versa was recovered at South Bridge apartments in Fort Wayne in March, the car had telltale bullet holes in the passenger side.
The Nissan Versa was also swabbed for DNA. Devonte Travier’s DNA was found on the gearshaft and the steering wheel. Travier and Haywood’s DNA was found on the steering wheel and on the passenger side door handle.
Then there’s the blue Dodge Ram pickup truck Haywood was driving on Feb. 26 when federal marshalls arrested him on a warrant at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan. The warrant was out of Oklahoma for drug charges, Scremin and Haywood explained, not murder.
In the truck, crime scene technicians found a Glock 30 .45 caliber gun Haywood arranged to buy from Giddens the day after the shooting, according to text messages included in court documents. The gun used to kill Fitts is nowhere to be found and is believed to be a 9mm handgun because the shell casings found at the intersection and in Golden’s van were 9mm.
That Dodge Ram was also rented by a female friend of Haywood’s.
The last car is a Kia that Travier ran into a ditch on the foggy, rainy night of Feb. 27. He also hit a light pole and the car had to be towed.
When lead homicide detective Liza Anglin heard about the Kia in the ditch and the suspect driving it, she immediately decided to get the ditch drained. Then she and homicide detective Darrin Strayer raked it until they found a fob and a 9mm Smith & Wesson. The fob belonged to the Nissan Versa used in the shooting.
What Scremin must do is throw doubt on all these connections, particularly the one that links Haywood to a 602 area code phone that another homicide detective tracked the night of the shooting to the intersection where Fitts was fatally shot, then to Haywood’s sometime girlfriend on Harrison Street and then to Giddens residence where Haywood allegedly got the Glock located in the Dodge Ram.
Tomorrow at closing arguments, Helge and deputy prosecutor Alik Hall will string a narrative they hope will convince the jury that Haywood is guilty of this crime. Scremin, a seasoned defense attorney, will attempt to tear their story apart, relying heavily on the 602 area code phone no one can find. But then Haywood used a lot of phones.
Closings should begin around 9 a.m. Then the jury will leave to deliberate. A verdict is expected Friday.