A wheelchair-bound man charged last week with murder had drugs in his possession and confessed to the crime, and his victim had previously sold illegal drugs from the home where he was killed, according to authorities.
Martavius Cortez Lee, 21, of 1023 Routon Drive S.W., was charged in last Friday’s fatal shooting of Ghaith Hameed Vest, 22, at Vest's 349 Herring Road home. Lee remains in Morgan County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
According to an affidavit by Detective Joshua Daniell, police found Vest’s body in the driveway of his home with multiple gunshot wounds. Lee was also at the home, sitting in a Chevrolet Tahoe registered to a Mississippi woman. Police could smell marijuana in Lee’s vehicle and he had a firearm, Daniell said.
“It was determined that the firearm was recently fired by Lee, who was located inside the vehicle with the gun, upon initial contact with the officers,” Daniell said in the affidavit.
Lee was taken to the Decatur Police Department, where “he admitted to shooting Vest at the residence where he was found deceased,” according to Daniell.
A search warrant was executed and Daniell on Wednesday filed an affidavit stating that police found a Taurus 856 gun box and holster, 2.4 grams of marijuana and 55 alprazolam (Xanax) pills. Police then charged Lee with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and second-degree marijuana possession. The Taurus 856 is a .38-caliber revolver with a 2-inch barrel.
Lee is confined to a wheelchair, according to friends and jail officials. Police spokeswoman Emily Long said Lee’s condition predated his arrest. In an affidavit filed with the court, he said he was on Social Security Disability.
Lee's lawyer, Victor Revill of Birmingham, did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
The driveway where police found Vest’s body was also the driveway where Vest last year sold drugs to an undercover officer, according to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Stacy Adams filed a forfeiture complaint against Vest in February 2019, seeking title to a 2006 BMW and a 2007 BMW that had been seized in a “controlled narcotics buy.”
Sheriff’s Office Investigator Joey Coburn filed an affidavit describing the operation.
“Between the dates of Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 (2019), agents with the Morgan County Drug Task Force made a controlled purchase of one ounce from Ghaith Vest,” Coburn wrote. “The transaction took place at 349 Herring Road. Vest sold the marijuana from a silver BMW vehicle at the end of his driveway.”
On Feb. 1, 2019, according to Coburn, the Drug Task Force and Decatur SWAT officers executed a search warrant at the home. Vest was not present when they arrived, but he pulled into the driveway during the search.
“After agents detained him, they recovered a key that belonged to a black BMW that was parked at the rear of the residence. Inside the trunk of the black BMW, agents recovered a large quantity of marijuana and BHO. The approximate weight was 1.1 pounds.”
BHO, or butane hash oil, is a concentrated form of cannabis.
Vest denied the allegations, but agreed to forfeit the vehicles.
Vest, born in Amman, Jordan, attended Danville High School, where he played football and baseball for the Danville Hawks. He received an honorable mention in the 2012 Decatur Daily Class 1A-3A All-Area football team.
At the time of the shooting, Lee was out on $2,500 bond on charges filed last year in Morgan County District Court for first-degree mischief, a felony. Police charged him with intentionally damaging a 2012 Honda Civic on Aug. 7 by breaking its rearview mirror, breaking out the rear window, and scratching and denting the vehicle, according to court records.
Lee was indicted in May 2018 on charges of second-degree marijuana possession and of driving a vehicle while under the influence of a substance that rendered him incapable of driving safely. According to a Decatur police statement at the time of the arrest, he was being questioned in connection with a hit-and-run investigation. The charges were dismissed by the Morgan County Circuit Court in September 2018 upon his entrance into a pretrial intervention program.
Lee played football at Austin High, where he was a senior in 2016.