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Mother sits in on trial of Decatur man accused of killing her son

Dante L. Wade

Dante L. Wade

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DECATUR — The mother of a son who was shot to death in Decatur will be allowed to sit in on the trial of the man pleading not guilty to killing him, a judge ruled Monday.

Dante L. Wade, 46, is facing three alternative counts of first degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Marcqui Apholone on Nov. 9, 2018. Jury selection in Macon County Circuit Court began Monday morning and the trial is expected to last several days.

Judge Thomas Griffith granted a motion by First Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke to allow Apholone’s mother, who will also be a character witness, to stay in court for the whole trial. Witnesses are usually excluded from observing trial proceedings.

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Defense attorney Caleb Brown objected, but Griffith said allowing the mother to stay would not create problems.

“It sounds like her testimony is … obviously substantive, but it’s not a major portion of the state’s case,” he added.

The judge also allowed a defense motion that bars witnesses from referring to Wade’s criminal history or previous incarcerations.

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Prosecution evidence described Apholone as the boyfriend of Wade’s daughter, Jasmine Wade, now 22. The boyfriend and girlfriend had gotten into an argument the day before the murder in which Apholone had taken her keys after she had seized his cell phone and both refused to give the items back. Her fingers had been injured when the confrontation turned physical. 

Kroncke, in her opening statement Monday afternoon, said Wade had been waiting nearby to “ambush” Apholone on the day he was killed, after accompanying his daughter who had gone to confront her boyfriend. She was angry after finding messages to other women on his phone and believed he was cheating on her, Kroncke said.  

She said Wade’s assault started with a physical confrontation and then Wade pulled a gun. The first shot almost severed Apholone’s left thumb as he held his hand up to defend himself. He then tried to run and was shot to death as he fled, Kroncke claimed. 

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“He runs for his life and is gunned down and left for dead,” she told the jury. 

Jasmine Wade is currently jailed because she refused to give evidence against her father. Brown warned jurors they will hear from multiple witnesses with a record of lying to the police. He said the state’s case just wasn’t good enough to convict his client beyond any reasonable doubt. 

“You will not hear a police officer testify that Dante was at the scene,” he added. “And you are not going to hear from any independent witness who looked at a photo lineup and said ‘I picked that guy out as the shooter.’”

Brown urged the jurors to weigh the evidence they hear carefully and reach their own conclusions. “And I am confident that, at the end of the trial, your conclusion will be Dante Wade is not guilty,” he said. 

Before jury selection began Monday, Griffith double checked that Wade was not interested in any kind of plea deal. Brown, the third defense attorney to represent Wade, briefly conferred with him and said his client did not want a deal.

Griffith then asked Kroncke what the terms would be if any deal was on the table, and she confirmed that if would have to involve a plea to first degree murder and a prison sentence of more than 20 years.

“And you would not be interested in such an offer, is that correct?” the judge double checked with Wade.

“Yes, sir,” replied Wade.

The trial continues.


Mug shots from the Herald & Review

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

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