Originally created 04/01/97

Murder suspect fails to show for court hearing



A week after Reginald Cummings was indicted on charges of committing a second murder, he failed to show up for court Monday.

Mr. Cummings, 24, of the 800 block of Third Street, was scheduled to stand trial Monday in Richmond County Superior Court along with three other men who are accused of gunning down an Augusta man to silence him because he knew about another homicide.

"Right now we have a killer on the loose," said District Attorney Danny Craig. "Hopefully he will be surrendered in very short order."

When Mr. Cummings failed to appear in court Monday, Mr. Craig asked Judge William M. Fleming Jr. to issue a bench warrant for Mr. Cummings' arrest. But because a grand jury arrest warrant for Mr. Cummings is pending, Judge Fleming said a bench warrant was unnecessary duplication.

Police have been looking for Mr. Cummings for a week, however, to issue the grand jury arrest warrant. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on the other murder charge.

Mr. Cummings was freed on a $50,000 bond in January after his attorney, Richard Ingram, told investigators that Mr. Cummings could help them with a Dec. 5 unsolved homicide. Mr. Cummings was in jail facing murder charges in connection with the Dec. 29 killing of Alfonzo R. Williams, 21.

Mr. Craig said last week that he consented to $50,000 bond for Mr. Cummings because investigators believed he could help solve the Dec. 5 killing of Jermaine Burris, 24. Later, investigators became convinced that Mr. Cummings was involved in both shooting deaths.

Investigators believe that Mr. Williams was killed because he knew about Mr. Burris' Dec. 5 killing, Mr. Craig said.

In addition to Mr. Cummings, Ernest Vaughns Jr., 18, and Johnny Bariel Brown Jr., 24, all of the 800 block of Third Street, and Rufus Gantt, 18, of Hephzibah were indicted on murder charges in connection with Mr. Williams' homicide. Mr. Cummings, Mr. Vaughns and Mr. Brown were indicted last week on murder charges in connection with Mr. Burris' killing. The other man charged in these cases have remained in jail since their arrests.

The trial concerning Mr. Williams' slaying was continued Monday. A hearing must first be held, scheduled for April 16, to determine if the prosecutor may introduce evidence of Mr. Burris' death during the trial.