Murder trial of Talladega man could go to jury today
by Chris Norwood
TALLADEGA — The murder trial of a Talladega man accused of a shooting death in Lincoln is expected to go to the jury this afternoon.

According to Assistant District Attorney Christina Kilgore, the state is expected to rest its case after presenting medical testimony in the morning.

Defense attorney Jon Adams said he will likely have all of his evidence presented by lunch time.

Ryan Foster, 24, is accused of killing Cedrick “Woody” Dothard in the parking lot of the Odyssey night club in Lincoln on March 13, 2011, at about 3 a.m. Foster allegedly bumped into Warren Dorrell “Slim” Gaston in the parking lot. Testimony from the various eyewitnesses varies in the details, but all agreed that the two exchanged words and that Gaston taunted Foster. Foster then walked to his car, produced a handgun and fired more than one shot. Dothard, who was standing next to Gaston, was hit once in the chest.

Gaston testified Tuesday that he swung at Foster when he didn’t say “excuse me,” but just barely connected. He said Foster fired two or three shots over their heads before leveling the gun, then fired two more shots, hitting Dothard once. At this point, several other people began shooting as well.

He then said the security guards opened fire, including one who fired into the air with a long gun of some kind. Gaston said he helped get Dothard into the car being driven by Cornelius “Bump” Embry, with Monique Culpepper in the passenger seat. He explained that this vehicle was closest to the road, and because of the huge volume of traffic coming down both lanes of the club’s driveway would have caused serious delay.

Lincoln Police Officer Tracy Steele said the vehicle arrived at the location where he had parked his car about one minute after hearing the initial shots. At about the same time Embry told him that someone had been shot, he reported hearing 20 to 30 more shots going off at the same location.

Whitley Morris, girlfriend of Mike “Maxall” Fomby, who testified Monday about trying to prevent the shooting before it happened, largely corroborated his version of events. Fomby claimed, and Morris confirmed, that after finding out Dothard had been shot, security guards tackled Fomby and confiscated the Glock .40 caliber handgun that was in his car. Other eyewitnesses said they did not see him getting tackled, and the whereabouts of the gun were unclear.

She also testified that the security guards fired several shots into the air in a failed attempt to control the crowd.

Dontario Wallace testified that he and Foster had been friends for years. He said he heard one shot followed by four more, then a crowd of people moving towards Foster’s car. He testified that he was trying to help Foster, but security attempted to pull him away. He saw the gun under the car seat when he finally got into Foster’s vehicle.

Foster told him, “I shot in the air, and then the gun came down and it went off,” Wallace testified.

In attempting to help his friend, Wallace said he initially told police that security had searched Foster’s vehicle but not found nothing.

Security guard Dominic Ruffin said he had a .40 caliber handgun, as did Mike Garrett, his supervisor, but was not aware of any security guards with long guns or of Fomby getting tackled. He said he was more concerned with Foster’s safety, adding that at least one club patron approached Foster’s car with a shotgun. He testified that he emptied a 15 round clip into the tree line away from the crowd, but the crowd was not impressed. He added that he recovered the empty clip but not any of the shell casings.

Garrett reportedly emptied two clips from a similar weapon.

Walter Stephens testified that he heard four shots and saw Foster holding the gun, but did not actually see Dothard getting shot. The security guards and the defendants were the only people he saw with guns, according to his testimony.

Qunitavis Garrett testified that he overheard a conversation where Foster told a cousin that he had given Lincoln police the wrong gun, and thought he would get away with the shooting for lack of evidence.

State firearms expert Derrick McClain said he was sent a total of 17 rounds, 14 from a .40 caliber and three from a 9 mm. The .40 caliber rounds came from two or three different weapons, and the 9 mm rounds came from two different weapons.

The .380 caliber gun that Lincoln police recovered from Foster’s father’s car was ruled out as having fired any of the recovered casings.

Forensics expert Torey Williams testified that blood from a jacket in the back seat of Embry’s car, some rocks from the club parking lot and a sample from Dothard taken at autopsy were all matches, with a likelihood of one in 16.8 quadrillion that it would have come from another African-American male.

Investigator Shannon Hallmark testified as the crime scene photos that she took and chain of custody on the other pieces of physical evidence.

If convicted, Foster faces 20 to 99 years or life in prison.

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