Originally created 02/16/99

Retrial begins in fatal shooting

Richmond County prosecutors began a second attempt Monday to convict two Augusta men of murder and aggravated assault in a 1997 drive-by shooting that authorities characterized as a case of "the hunters and the hunted."

The case against Corey Jackson, 25, and Darrell J. Jenkins, 22, resulted in a mistrial last year, with a jury hopelessly deadlocked.

The two face murder, assault and weapons charges in the death of Sherad Cunningham, 20, and the shootings of two other people on July 4, 1997.

Defense attorneys say prosecutors can't back up the contention that their clients are the men who pursued a Mitsubishi minivan through south Augusta, firing an assault rifle at Mr. Cunningham and three of his friends.

"There's going to be a blue or green Chevrolet vehicle that is going to be convicted," said Jack Boone, Mr. Jackson's lawyer.

"Yes, they're going to prove, probably beyond a reasonable doubt, that vehicle was used," he said. "There will be absolutely no direct evidence that Corey Jackson was in a car at all when that car was involved in a shooting. None."

Mr. Jackson was at an Independence Day holiday barbecue the entire day, Mr. Boone said in opening statements Monday.

"It is a crime that this happened," added Tony Axam, Mr. Jenkins' attorney. "We agree. But the question here, as they say in books, is `whodunnit?"'

Prosecutors say Mr. Jackson and Mr. Jenkins are the men who chased the vehicle carrying Mr. Cunningham from Deans Bridge Road near Regency Mall to 15th Street near T.W. Josey High School, firing an AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifle.

Investigators say one person in the van was mistaken for a drug dealer who had committed a drive-by shooting.

The driver of the car, David Cobb, and Mr. Cunningham's girlfriend, Denise Rivera -- both of whom were shot -- took the stand Monday to describe the panic and chaos that erupted in their vehicle when the shooting started.

Mr. Cunningham tried to shield Ms. Rivera with his body as they ducked in the back seat, she testified.

"The last thing I heard him say was `Get down, girl,"' said Mr. Cobb, who showed scars on his arm and back to jurors. "... After all the shooting stopped, and I felt safe, I looked around, and he was just lying there. I didn't know he was hit in the head. I just saw he got hit in the chest."

Mr. Cobb and Ms. Rivera both said they were unable to see the faces of their attackers.

Alisa DeMao can be reached at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.


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