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Suspects in Indianapolis birthday party shooting appear in court

By Mark Morgenstein, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three men are accused of shooting at a birthday party, killing two
  • They were read the charges against them and did not enter pleas
  • The charges include murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy

(CNN) -- The three suspects in an early August shooting that killed two people, including a woman hosting a birthday party for a friend at her Indianapolis home, appeared in a Marion County courtroom Friday morning, said Susan Decker, spokeswoman for the county prosecutor's office.

Court documents showed Damion Martin, 30; Antwan "Twin" Williams, 21; and Devin Staten, 27, each face eight felony charges, including two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Decker said Friday all three have prior arrest records but those did not factor into the latest charges.

In court, the men were read the charges against them and asked if they understood them. No pleas were entered. Only Williams has retained counsel, Decker said. Martin is getting a public defender, while Staten had been appointed a public defender, but relations of his at court said he would be obtaining private representation, Decker said.

The three men are accused of slaying Barbara Johnson, 37. and Charles Mays, 54, and trying to kill Kendall Hill, who was among six survivors who were shot.

Hill, Willie Battles, Prinsonia Johnson, Tamara Williams, Nakisha Morris and Brian Dotson were all taken from the scene to a hospital with gunshot wounds, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The residence belonged to Barbara Johnson, who witnesses said was hosting a party for Battles that night, the affidavit said.

The court documents say that as part of the suspects' alleged murder conspiracy, they "changed into black or dark clothing, borrowed a vehicle, obtained guns and drove to [Johnson's house], where they fired multiple shots at and against various persons."

According to the affidavit, witnesses told officers they saw people shooting from a silver or gray four-door newer model Chrysler 300, with one person standing in the driver's open door or at the front of the car reloading an assault-style rifle. Some witnesses also reported that there was a second shooter from the car, in addition to the driver. Witnesses also said all the people in the car were African-American males dressed in black and wearing some type of bandana or scarf covering their face.

The affidavit states that a woman named Robin Jones arrived at Johnson's home for the party around 9:30 p.m. the night of August 2 and spoke to Hill, who asked her why she thought Hill had something to do with another murder.

Jones said she left and went to a different party nearby, where she told Martin and Staten about her exchange with Hill.

Jones added that around 11:50 p.m., she saw Martin, Staten and a man "later identified by her as 'Twin' or Antwan Williams," leave in a Chrysler 300.

"Approximately 8-10 minutes later she heard several gunshots, then there was a pause and then she heard several more gunshots," the affidavit says. "Robin Jones said a friend called and told her there had been a shooting. ... Robin Jones said two days later she spoke to the black male she knows as "Twin." Robin Jones said Twin told her he got out of the car and shot Kendall. ... Robin Jones said Twin told her people at the party returned gunshots when Damion Martin began shooting."

After almost two weeks of investigation, including photo lineups and scrutiny of cell phone records, police arrested the three suspects on Monday, the affidavit said.

Martin, Williams and Staten are being held without bond in Marion County Jail, Decker said.

She said there will be another hearing Monday, with a pretrial conference to follow on October 5.

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