Photo by Elaine Rackley
Five defense attorneys gave their closing arguments during aggravated assault and aggravated battery trial Thursday. Joshua Berry, Mondarius Head, Quendarius McKibben, Cortez Scott and Orterrio Watson are defendants in the case.
McDONOUGH — Jurors in the SoHo Lounge case are scheduled to begin deliberations Friday.
Thursday, the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments during the third day of the aggravated assault trial. Five college football players are on trial for allegedly beating David Tan Do, 22, last year, in the Soho Grande Bar & Grill parking lot in McDonough.
Joshua Rashad Berry, 20, Mondarius Head, 20, Montez Quendarius McKibben, 21, Oreterro Chanez Watson, 20, and Cortez William Scott, 21, were indicted in July on aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges. Each defendant was represented by his own defense attorney during the trial.
The incident occurred last year, May 7, at the Soho Grande Bar & Grill, which was located at 716 Georgia Highway 155 South.
McDonough Police Officer J. Hobbs, was working part-time at the eatery, where Do said he and his girlfriend, Gloria Harvey, 40, of Jenkinsburg, went the night of the altercation to celebrate his birthday.
“I was going to Soho, but I never made it in,” Do, 22, said in a previous interview with the Henry Daily Herald.
Officer Hobbs said when Do’s girlfriend called him to the parking lot, he ran to the area, but did not see a fight. He said he later saw Do on the ground.
According to the McDonough police report, the incident began when words were exchanged.
“One of them made a derogatory comment to Ms. Harvey,” the police report continued. “He [Do] advised that he turned to confront the individual and does not remember anything past that.”
“She [Harvey] advised that, at that point, it appeared that they apologized to Mr. Do ... When Mr. Do turned away from them and began walking back towards her, they all jumped on him,” according to Hobbs’ police report. “She advised that he fell to the ground and they began kicking and punching him [Mr. Do].”
The former Jackson High School football players now are on football scholarships at various colleges.
Initially, Do reported the alleged beating to police as a hate crime, testified former McDonough Police Sgt. Chris Morris, of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
“That is why we contacted the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). It is a standard procedure to contact the FBI for racially motivated hate crimes. The FBI agent made a decision not to pursue the case,” said Morris. “Do later told me he didn’t feel like the incident was racially motivated, he blamed the news media, saying ‘they twisted my words.’ ”
Morris testified Do changed his story from the first time police interviewed him. Morris said Do told police he made a comment about his heart does not pump Kool-Aid and went to his car, the night of the alleged beating. Morris said the victim told him the incident started because he confronted the men about his girlfriend.
“He never mentioned going to his car to get a purse until the second interview,” testified Morris. “Do made comments he would light the place up like the fourth of July.”
Morris told the court the five young suspects were interviewed separately by police. They were placed in a line-up with other men police knew were not involved in the incident, for the victim to identify his perpetrators, continued Morris.
Frederick Jones represented Head in the aggravated assault case.
“I feel my client was justified because he was in fear,” said Jones. “He merely acted in self defense and we are here trying to prove that.
In his closing argument, Jones referred to the racial names Do initially told police he was called by the group.
“You heard Mr. Do say he heard them call him names ...Mr. Do aid he came back to the group and said ‘My heart don’t pump no Kool-Aid.’ He said he turned around in a group of about 20 people and got struck. The next thing he remembers was an officer waking him up,” said Jones. “No one else testified they heard the name calling. You heard officers and individuals testify that Do said, ‘I will light up ... like it was the fourth of July. I believe that is considered a threat.”
Franklin Hogue called a couple of character witnesses to testify on behalf his client, McKibben.
“Gloria Harvey sent Do to get her purse out of an unlocked car,” said Hogue, in his closing argument. “Do said he starts back to his car with an intent to move the car, but before getting to the car he stops to make his Kool-Aide comment and he turns around and they jumped him. That is the story you have to believe to convict Quendarius McKibben.”
Bill Puckett represented Joshua Berry, he defined presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt to the jury.
“When it comes to Mr. Berry if your mind is wavering or unsatisfied you must find Mr. Berry not guilty,” said Puckett. “Why didn’t Do threaten them saying he had a gun, rather than the Kool-Aid remark. Do is just not truthful.”
Kempter said her client cannot be convicted just on the basis of his mere presence during the incident.
“I believe you are going to come back with a verdict of not guilty for Mr. Watson,” said Kempter.