Originally created 02/17/99

Lawyers focus on blue car



Prosecutors worked all day Tuesday trying to connect a blue 1969 Chevrolet Caprice to two Augusta men on trial in the killing of 20-year-old Sherad Cunningham.

That car is the one piece of evidence constant to the prosecution's case against Corey Jackson, 25, and Darrell J. Jenkins, 22, who face murder, assault and weapons charges in the death of Mr. Cunningham and the shootings of two others.

Defense testimony likely will begin today in the second trial for the two men. Their first ended as a mistrial one year ago when the jury became deadlocked.

Both are accused of being in the blue Caprice July 4, 1997, when it was seen chasing a minivan occupied by Mr. Cunningham and three others, and shooting at the van with an AK-47 assault rifle.

However, none of the witnesses who testified Tuesday could say for certain that either man was actually in the car during the attack.

Nathan Robertson, a BellSouth employee, testified he saw the Caprice, but not the men chasing a van, and heard shots as he was working near Deans Bridge and Murphy roads.

From Mr. Robertson's account and the vehicle's tag number he had written on his hand, police were able to trace the car to its previous owner, Lamont Stokes of North Augusta, said Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Lee Woods.

Mr. Stokes testified he had bought a green 1969 Caprice with $2,500 cash in 1990.

"He (Mr. Jackson) gave me the money to purchase the vehicle for him," Mr. Stokes said. "He claimed he didn't have any driver's license."

Mr. Stokes said Mr. Jackson took possession of the car immediately after its purchase, but couldn't explain why the vehicle's title was later put into yet another man's name.

The state's main witness against Mr. Jenkins was Sylvester Fountain Jr., 20, the only passenger in the minivan who survived the shooting unscathed.

After the shooting, Mr. Fountain told police, he got a look at the man with the AK-47 from the front passenger seat of the minivan just before the shooting began.

He remembered the shooter had a "funny-shaped head," a feature that resembled someone he knew from elementary school -- Mr. Jenkins.

"I went to school with him. I know how he looks," Mr. Fountain said.

S.B. Crawford can be reached at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 111, or scraw@augustachronicle.com.