Testimony begins in murder trial of Columbia man

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 9:12 p.m. CDT; updated 9:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 30, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia man charged with murdering Deaudre Johnson actually meant to shoot a different man he'd fought with earlier in the day, a witness testified Tuesday.

Kentavie Mullins was the intended target, Que'monn Wilkerson, 18, told a jury on the first day of Anthony Tyree Graves' trial. Graves, 20, is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the March 12, 2012, shooting in central Columbia.

Wilkerson said Graves told him after Johnson's death that he'd shot the wrong person and that he intended to shoot Mullins.

Mullins and Graves had an ongoing feud. Mullins, 19, said Graves "had him in a choke hold" once during a fight and that he "wanted a second round."

Johnson, who was 17, was shot in the chest twice near Trinity Place and Switzler Street and taken to University Hospital, where he died.

Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Morrell said the dispute that night began hours earlier when Graves drove by Douglass Park. Graves fired twice from the driver's seat of a 1998 White Buick Skylark, Morrell told the jury.

Mullins testified that Graves drove along Park Avenue near the park and stopped in the middle of the street. Mullins said he was walking on the sidewalk, along with his brother, Chris Mullins, and Johnson. He said Graves pointed a black gun at them through the driver's side window.

Mullins told the jury that he yelled, "Let's fight!" at Graves because he wanted to "get his round on," and make up for losing an earlier fight.

Wilkerson, who was in the passenger seat of the car, testified that Mullins asked Graves: "What, are you going to shoot me?" He said Graves replied that he would if Mullins continued to agitate him.

Mullins said he saw Graves and Wilkerson again later that night near Trinity Place, where the shooting took place.

Mullins testified that he again asked Graves if he wanted to fight. Graves, according to Mullins, said he didn't need to because he had "already beaten him up."

As Graves walked away, Mullins said his brother picked up a beer bottle and told Graves, "you better make it back to your car before I see you again." He testified that he told his brother to stop antagonizing Graves and asked him to drop the bottle, which he did.

Later that night, according to Mullins, Graves drove his car past the Mullins brothers and Johnson and fired two shots, which struck Johnson in the chest.

Wilkerson had a slightly different version of what happened that night.

Wilkerson, who testified that he was in the passenger's seat when Graves opened fire and shot Johnson, said they ran away from Mullins earlier that night because they "saw someone pass a gun to someone else."

Circuit Court Judge Kevin Crane called for an overnight recess about 5 p.m. Tuesday. The prosecution is expected to call more witnesses Wednesday. Boone County Public Defender David Wallis is expected to lay out how Graves killed Johnson in self-defense.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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