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Decatur man denies shooting woman dead as she ran with fleeing crowd

Decatur man denies shooting woman dead as she ran with fleeing crowd

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Paul M. Folks

Paul M. Folks. 

DECATUR — Paul M. Folks pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder Wednesday after prosecutors accused of him of firing his revolver into the backs of a fleeing crowd and shooting a Decatur woman dead.

Twenty-two-year-old Shemilah Sanders would die in the intensive care unit of Decatur Memorial Hospital on the afternoon of June 9. Macon County Coroner Michael E. Day said she had suffered a single gunshot wound to the back of her head.

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Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott said Folks, 41, fired the fatal bullet on the night of June 6 near the underpass on East Garfield Avenue.

Questioned by Scott in Macon County Circuit Court, Decatur police Detective Barry Hitchens said there had been an altercation involving a large group of people gathered in the area. Hitchens then said a man, later identified as Folks, was seen to pull out a gun, point it into the crowd near him and begin firing.

“And according to witnesses, Shemilah Sanders was one of the individuals who was running and observed to fall to the ground when shots were fired by this man?”

“Yes,” said Hitchens.

The detective said four witnesses later picked Folks out of a photo lineup. Folks was arrested June 8.

Defending attorney Dave Ellison asked Hitchens about the identification and how close to the shooting it was conducted. “I don't know the exact date, it was the following week, approximately Monday or Tuesday,” Hitchens replied.

Ellison also probed the description of the shooter. “And isn’t it true that the description of the person doing the shooting was somebody that was in his 40s or early 50s, had grayish hair and short dreads?” Ellison asked.

Hitchens said the initial witness description ranged from a black male aged around 30 to late 40s with “twisties” in his hair.

Ellison had no further questions and Judge Phoebe Bowers ruled there was probable cause to try Folks for murder. She scheduled a pretrial hearing for Aug. 3 and assigned the case to Judge Jeffrey Geisler. Folks remains in the custody of the Macon County Jail with bail set at $500,000, which means he must post $50,000 to be released.

A nephew of Folks, 30-year-old Lavanski Folks, was also arrested and faces a preliminary weapons charges from the same incident. Macon County Jail records show he remains in custody with bail set at $2 million, meaning he must post $200,000 to be released. Preliminary charges are subject to review by the state attorney's office. 


Mug shots from the Herald & Review 

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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