Liquor store shooting suspect appears in court

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2004

A Selma man charged with three felonies in connection to a shooting at Johnny’s Package Store appeared in District Court on Wednesday. The appearance, though, wasn’t necessary.

Cedric Dewayne Eaton, 17, appeared before Dallas County District Court Judge Nathaniel Walker on Wednesday for his first call hearing. Eaton is charged with discharging a gun into an occupied building, discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle and assault first degree. The charges stem from a Jan. 24 shooting.

A first call hearing is usually a defendant’s first time before a magistrate. It’s common for defendants to have their preliminary hearings set and their charges read to them at the first call hearing.

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According to Joseph Fitzpatrick, Fourth Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney, Eaton’s court appearance was moot. Since Eaton had already been indicted by a Dallas County grand jury, District Court didn’t have jurisdiction over the case. However, Eaton had received a subpoena to appear, which he obeyed.

Typically, defendants appear for first call hearings before their cases proceed to the grand jury. However, Fitzpatrick said that the district attorney, Ed Greene, has the prerogative to send it to the grand jury before the case reaches the first call hearing.

According to Fitzpatrick, at least one case is added to the grand jury docket each time the body meets.

Eaton’s charges stem from a shooting at Johnny’s Package Store on Alabama Highway 80 East on Jan. 24. Eaton allegedly pulled into the store’s parking lot and began shooting at a blue Suburban.

Two teenage girls, who had been standing hear the Suburban, received minor cuts from shattered glass. They fled across the Edmund-Pettus Bridge and appeared covered in blood in the lobby of the St. James Hotel. The girls received treatment at Vaughan Regional Medical Center for minor injuries.

A store clerk also received treatment at the hospital after a bullet grazed his left arm.

According to Selma Police Chief Robert Green, the shooting occurred because of an altercation between the suspect and two men inside the Suburban.

Authorities arrested Eaton on Jan. 27. He received a $15,000 bond, which he later made.

Fitzpatrick said he expects Eaton will appear for his arraignment in Circuit Court in 30 to 45 days.