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Not guilty plea entered in Decatur party shooting that left 1 dead

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DECATUR — Prosecutors don’t yet know who gunned down and killed Antwane L. McClelland Jr. at a Decatur block party. But they told a judge they do know Damariyon T. Mills was there and was caught on surveillance tape firing a gun twice as he ran from the area.

On Wednesday, Mills, 22, appeared in Macon County Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to the aggravated discharge of a firearm and the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

McClelland, 26, died July 15 after Decatur police say an argument broke out followed by a gunfight during the street party held in the area of the 1100 block of East Leafland Avenue. Police said there had been multiple shooters involved.

Detective Ben Massey, questioned at the preliminary hearing by Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter, said police were still trying to identify McClelland’s killer.

Rueter then asked him: “The cooperation from witnesses is limited and what observable evidence officers have, in the form of videos and that sort of thing, show some stuff but nothing definitive about which bullets fired from what gun struck Mr. McClelland, is that correct?”

Massey said it was, but also said video surveillance had identified Mills as being at least one of the shooters. He said Mills, wearing distinctive clothing, is seen running from the area of the block party as the shooting breaks out around 2:05 a.m. and people and vehicles begin fleeing in all directions.

“As he is coming back to the north and to the west, you could see two muzzle flashes come from his hand,” Massey told Rueter.

Defense attorney Michelle Sanders then questioned the detective and focused on what, precisely, the video showed. “Based on the surveillance video that you reviewed, you weren’t able to actually identify a handgun in Mr. Mills’s hand, is that correct?”

Massey replied: “No, but the day the arrest warrant was issued we located two shell casings and the shell casings were in the general area where the muzzle flashes were seen.”

Sanders then asked if police working the crime scene had recovered a total of 33 shell casings left behind by various different shooters, and Massey said that was correct. He also confirmed they had been sent to the State Police Crime Lab for forensic analysis.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Rodney Forbes concluded there was probable cause to try Mills and scheduled a pretrial hearing for Sept. 27. Mills is also pleading not guilty to two additional aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charges in an earlier, unrelated case.

He remains held in the Macon County Jail with bail set at $500,000, meaning he must post a bond of $50,000 to be freed.

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


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