DECATUR — Charles L. Fitzpatrick pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he tried to hold up a Decatur motorist for money and attempted to shoot him to death when the victim said he was calling the police.
Fitzpatrick, 26, is accused of shooting 70-year-old Rafael Graham twice in the abdomen as he leaned in through the passenger window of the victim’s car. Graham was badly wounded but is recovering after the shooting, which happened the evening of Oct. 16 in the 1400 block of North Monroe Street.
Speaking at Fitzpatrick’s arraignment Wednesday in Macon County Circuit Court, Det. Jeremy Appenzeller said the suspect was among a group of 10 men crossing the road as Graham was driving by. The victim had stopped his car after hearing a loud noise and noticing that his passenger side mirror was damaged.
Under questioning from Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott, Appenzeller said Fitzpatrick had leaned in through the open passenger window and said something like “You messed up” before demanding money from Graham, who instead said he was calling 911. Fitzpatrick then fired the shots and took off running, Appenzeller said.
Police recovered two .380 shell casings in the car and two more outside it, and also found a spent bullet, Appenzeller confirmed.
In addition to denying the attempted first degree murder charge, Fitzpatrick, who is being held in the Macon County Jail, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, being an armed habitual criminal and possession of a weapon by a felon.
He also denied further charges that he had been in possession of drugs with intent to deliver.
Det. Appenzeller those charges arose from a police raid Oct. 22 on a house in the 900 block of North Union Street where Fitzpatrick had been arrested. Tipped off anonymously that Fitzpatrick was the shooting suspect, police had executed a search warrant at the house and found 10 individually packaged bags of heroin weighing 1.2 grams, along with five small bags of crack cocaine, a 10 gram bag of cocaine and a .45 caliber handgun.
Defense attorney David Ellison said he didn’t have many questions but did point out that the gun recovered at the house was a different caliber from the weapon used to shoot Graham.
Associate Judge Phoebe S. Bowers ran through all the charges with Fitzpatrick before setting a pretrial hearing for Dec. 27.