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Coroner's jury probes Decatur shooting death and fatal vehicle crash

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DECATUR — A Decatur shooting death and a city car crash fatality involving a driver intoxicated with methamphetamine were probed by a coroner’s jury Tuesday.

The jurors met at the Macon County Courthouse and quickly returned a verdict in the case of 32-year-old Stonee O. Adams — who suffered 10 gunshot wounds — that his death was the result of a homicide.

And the jury only spent a few minutes before returning a verdict that impaired driver Jason A. Mason, 53, died as the result of an accident.

Dealing with the Adams case first, jurors heard from Decatur police Detective Brad Hall. He described patrol officers being called to the 100 block of South Dipper Lane at 1:40 a.m. April 9 after reports of shots fired.

Hall said they found Adams with fatal wounds and he was later pronounced dead in the emergency room of Decatur Memorial Hospital. Detectives also found a 19-year-old woman who described coming home with Adams from a night out and then being ambushed by an unseen gunman outside her apartment.

The detective said the woman fled on foot as shots rang out and returned barely a minute later to find Adams, a man she described as only “a friend”, lying on the ground in her apartment parking lot.

Questioned by Macon County Coroner Michael E. Day, it became clear that the shooting suspect who was arrested later that morning, Deonte M. Drake Jr., considered the relationship of Adams with the woman as more than friendly.

“In the interview that I conducted with Mr. Drake, he advised he was in a dating relationship with the female which caused him to be angry seeing her with another male,” said Hall. “When the female was asked about that, she denied being in a relationship with Mr. Drake and just said their relationship was ‘friends’ as well.”

Hall said Drake told him he had parked close to the woman’s apartment just before she arrived there with the victim and then launched his attack. Drake is now pleading not guilty to four alternate murder charges and is being held in the Macon County Jail with bail set at $1.5 million.

Turning to the April 22 early morning death of Mason, the jurors were told he had been westbound in the 2500 block of East Eldorado Street in a Silverado pickup truck when he was in collision with a semitruck trailer.

Patrol Officer Larry Brooks, an expert with the Decatur Police Fatal Accident Investigation Team, said the driver of the eastbound semi had watched Mason’s vehicle, with one working headlight, weaving all over the road as it approached around 5 a.m.

Brooks said the semi driver slowed down because he feared a collision but could do nothing to prevent Mason’s truck from plowing into the side of his trailer at 41 mph. “The trailer had 55,000 pounds of limestone in it, so it would be like running into a brick wall,” said Brooks.

Mason had to be cut free from the twisted wreck and suffered multiple injuries the coroner described as “grievous” in a “very devastating crash.” Mason had been pronounced dead at 6 a.m. in the Decatur Memorial Hospital emergency room.

Day said a blood test showed Mason had enough meth in his system, along with traces of fentanyl, to seriously impair driving ability. And Brooks, answering questions from the coroner, said he doubted if Mason was even awake when the crash occurred.

Loaded with stimulant drugs, the officer explained, the human body eventually grows tired. “It comes to a time when the body says ‘Time out, I am done, I need to sleep’…” Brooks said analysis of the Silverado truck’s equivalent of a black box information recorder showed Mason never hit the brakes or tried to steer away before impact.

“And so from that information that is why I am assuming he was not conscious,” he added.

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


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