Witnesses: Man shot at club robbed alleged shooter just before being slain

Berkeley County magistrate found probable cause to allow the state's murder case against Brock Jerome Smith

January 27, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Brock Jerome Smith
West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The man charged in the Jan. 15 shooting death of Damon M. Scott knew the victim, and witnesses testified in court Thursday that Scott apparently robbed the alleged shooter just before being shot twice in a shower of gunfire outside a Martinsburg-area club.

After hearing about three hours of testimony, Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington found probable cause to allow the state's murder case against Brock Jerome Smith, 21, of Hagerstown, to proceed to circuit court. There, the state's evidence can be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Smith, of 623 George St., is being held without bail in Eastern Regional Jail.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Gary Harmison testified Thursday that an autopsy revealed Scott had gunshot entry wounds on the right side of his chest below his nipple and on his back above his right kidney.

Neither bullet exited the victim's body, Harmison said.

In addition to observing Scott's autopsy, Harmison said he processed evidence, which included six, 9mm shell casings that were found outside Club Zero at 1774 Winchester Ave., after the shooting happened.

Lead investigating Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Trampus Boyles testified that no weapons were recovered, including the firearm that police believe Scott discarded as he fled on foot from police after being shot.

Deputy Cpl. W.D. Christian testified that he was about to turn onto Winchester Avenue from Brian Drive across from Club Zero, when he heard gunfire coming from the direction of the club at 3:11 a.m.

In the parking lot, which was full of cars and a number of people, Christian said he then saw a vehicle's brake lights light up, and then saw an individual firing at a sedan model-vehicle that was leaving.

Christian said he ordered Scott to the ground, but the victim instead turned and began to flee on foot. Amid the pursuit, Christian said he saw Scott appear to discard an object that he believed was a firearm, but it was not found.

Christian said he twice used his Taser in an attempt to stop the man, but the electrodes fired from the device failed to penetrate the victim's leather jacket.

Christian said he eventually caught up with the victim behind a neighboring rental business and the deputy said he noticed Scott's breathing was shallow after taking the man to the ground.

Christian said Scott did not respond to any of his questions, including whether he had been shot.

Before the shooting, Terelle Blair testified that he saw Scott ordering Smith at gunpoint to take off his shoes and other belongings as he and other people were leaving the establishment.

Blair said Scott was talking loudly and cursing at Smith and he heard the defendant asking Scott why he was doing this.

Blair said he knew both Smith and the victim, who he referred to as "Gotti" and didn't observe any problems while they were inside the club.

Blair said he also didn't see Smith with a weapon. As the shooting began, Blair said he saw the defendant jump into the passenger seat of a car that was later identified as a Chrysler 300.

While registered to Smith's sister, the vehicle was being driven by Octoviol Zshemek Taft, 20, also of Hagerstown, witnesses at the scene said.

Harmison said police later found a bullet hole on the exterior of the Chrysler 300, but found no shell casings or bullet holes inside the car after police searched it.

After the shooting, the Chrysler was pursued by West Virginia authorities into Maryland. The chase ended near Clear Spring when the car went off U.S. 40 and crashed in a wooded area, Maryland State Police have said.

Taft and passenger Dionnday Mynetriel Anderson, 20, of 140 S. Prospect St., both have been charged with accessory after the fact of murder and remain incarcerated at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg.

Anderson's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9, according to court records. Taft, who also was charged with fleeing in a vehicle, waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days on Wednesday.  

Boyles on Thursday said Taft indicated in a statement after being arrested that Smith shot Scott, but the deputy also said Taft indicated he did not actually see the defendant shoot the victim.

 Boyles testified that investigators had obtained evidence indicating Smith was forced to surrender some of his belongings including his shoes and jewelry before the shooting happened. The defendant was found with $2,300 in cash after police caught up with him after the shooting, Harmison testified.

Police found Scott had $732 in cash and two rings in his possession along with a pill and a half of another, Boyles testified. A preliminary examination indicated the pills might be hydrocodone, Boyles said.

Taft briefly took the witness stand on Thursday, but invoked his 5th Amendment right not to testify after only acknowledging he was at Club Zero the night of the shooting.

According to the criminal complaint, Taft told police that Scott began shooting at Smith, who then shot back.

Maryland Judiciary Case Search records show Scott had addresses in Hagerstown and Alexandria, Va., in 2010.

Smith was represented by attorney Sherman Lambert, who said he was privately retained. Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carmela M. Cesare, who presented the state's case, argued that Smith was the only person who had a motive to shoot Scott after being "disrespected" in front of his friends outside the club.

Boyles said he received information from Washington County authorities indicating Smith was a member of the Gangster Disciples gang and the defendant was wearing clothing with the gang's colors.

Lambert argued that the state presented no physical evidence that linked his client to the shooting and that Smith was fleeing from the club for his life.

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