Investigator testifies on July 3 drive-by in court hearing

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Two Selma teenagers arrested for capital murder in the July 3 drive-by shooting death of 17-year-old Christopher Lee appeared in court Wednesday.

Markel Collins, 16, and Mitchell Williams, 19, were both scheduled for preliminary hearings in Circuit Judge Collins Pettway’s courtroom, but only Collins had his hearing. Williams did not have an attorney present. During his arraignment last month Williams requested a week to hire an attorney. His mother asked Pettway to appoint an attorney.

The court heard testimony from Lt. Tory Neely, a criminal investigator with the Selma Police Department. Neely was the lead investigator on the case and told the court when he arrived on the scene at 1508 Washington St., Lee was deceased laying in the doorway of the home.

Neely said he secured the scene and interviewed two witnesses who were on the porch when Lee was shot to death. Those two witnesses, who Neely said were between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, identified Collins as the driver of a brown or gold Honda Accord where the fatal shots were fired from.

Neely said the two witnesses also identified 19-year-old Ceddarius Williams, 23-year-old Jamarius Shaw and Mitchell Williams as passengers and shooters.

Neely told the court Lee was shot several times, including one time in the neck, and was pronounced dead by Dallas County Coroner Alan Dailey at 12:15 p.m. on July 3. Shell casings were recovered on the scene from three different types of weapons. Neely said he collected .40 caliber, 9mm and .45 caliber casings.

When asked where the casings were found by Collins’ attorney William Whatley, Neely said he found them near the porch where Lee was when he was shot to death. Whatley pointed out the distance from the road, which is where the shots were allegedly fired from, to where the casings were found, which he estimated to be between 15 to 20 yards.

Neely said no weapons have been recovered, and the car allegedly used in the drive-by has also not been recovered. Neely said the car is believed to belong to Collins’ mother.

Two other shootings that same morning are also connected to Lee’s death. A home on the 2700 block of Matthew Lane was shot up just hours earlier. Carlos Hunter, who was inside the home on Washington Street when Lee was shot and killed, was identified by Collins as the shooter. He was arrested and charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Neely said investigators at the scene on Matthew Lane saw Collins and Ceddarius Williams leave the home together in the Honda Accord that was allegedly used in the drive-by. A short time later Lee was shot to death on Washington Street.

That was the second time within hours the Washington Street home had been shot up. Around 3 a.m. that morning shots were fired into the home.

Judge Pettway found enough probable cause in the case and bound it over to a grand jury. Whatley then asked the judge to consider giving Collins bond and cited a recent Supreme Court decision that bans mandatory life without parole sentences for minors.

“The U.S. Supreme Court said that if you’re less than 18 at the time you commit a capital offense and you got life without parole, you’re not supposed to do that as the only option,” Whatley said. “All those cases are coming back for new sentencing hearings to where the judge has to consider something less and only use life without parole as the most extreme.”

Pettway said he would take the request for bond under advisement, but as for now Collins is still being held without bond.

The Selma Police Department is still looking for Jamarius Shaw.