A Morgan County grand jury will hear the capital murder case involving an 18-year-old Decatur man accused of killing and robbing a man last month at a Southwest Decatur apartment following testimony at a preliminary hearing in district court Friday afternoon.
Decatur Police Detective Jasmin Ferizovic, the case's lead investigator, testified that recorded jail phone calls and two witnesses provided key evidence to charge Justin Da Shawn Fuqua with the shooting death of Daniel James Abbate, 20, of Jasper, who was at Fuqua’s apartment complex on Second Avenue Southwest to sell him guns on the night of Aug. 25.
Abbate’s body was discovered at 6:36 a.m. Aug. 26 partially covered by two mattresses near a dumpster, according to a police report.
At the end of the one hour and 50 minute hearing, District Judge Shelly Waters said she found probable cause that Fuqua had committed a crime and bound the case over to the grand jury.
Ferizovic testified the victim’s wallet was found on the second-floor landing outside of Apartment 20, where Fuqua and his brother lived. He said Dr. Valerie Green, who performed the autopsy, said Abbate died of a single gunshot wound to his chest. No gun has been recovered. Neither have the three weapons that witnesses said Abbate had with him at the alleged gun transaction.
Ferizovic said text and phone messages showed Abbate was in Decatur to sell Fuqua and a 17-year-old male, also charged with capital murder but not identified because he's a juvenile, a Glock pistol and .22-caliber long gun. Abbate had a 9mm pistol with him, according to the victim’s grandfather.
Ferizovic said a Huntsville man, Monroe Powers, and two others drove Abbate to the apartment complex to complete the gun deal. While waiting for Abbate to come back out of the apartment about 9 p.m. Aug. 25, “Powers said he heard one gunshot. He called Abbate and he didn’t answer and ‘we went back to Huntsville,'" Ferizovic testified.
The detective said a jail phone call was recorded Aug. 26 between a person identified as “KD” and another identified as “ES” who were talking in code. He testified KD said “G2,” a street name for Fuqua, “snotted a white dog,” which meant he had killed a white guy, the detective said. Abbate was white.
Ferizovic said a witness identified as “AP” took a photo of Abbate after the shooting. The detective said a witness told police that Fuqua and a juvenile identified as “BJ” moved the body from the apartment’s landing about 15 yards across the parking lot to near the dumpster on the front side of the complex, across from the ballfields behind Aquadome Recreation Center.
On Aug. 30, Fuqua turned himself into Decatur police. Ferizovic said Fuqua confirmed his street name was G2. He said Fuqua told him during questioning that about 15 people were at the apartment and that he heard a gunshot and saw the victim on the floor “still breathing.”
The detective testified that AP told him that she was driven to a “bridge with water under it in the northwest portion of town” and was told to toss the victim’s cellphone in the water. He said the Police Department and the Morgan County Rescue Squad were unsuccessful in their attempt to recover a phone along a Finley Avenue Northwest bridge, believed to be the bridge to which the witness was referring.
Fuqua's appointed attorney, Carl Cole, asked Ferizovic what was done to verify the facts of KD’s statements. The detective said KD translated the code that said “Fuqua killed the white guy.”
“One statement from KD is the only evidence?” Cole asked. Cole said that Fuqua and AP said a third person did the shooting.
Ferizovic said it hasn’t been determined if Abbate was killed inside the apartment or outside on the landing area of the stairwell. He also said a shell casing believed to be unrelated to this case was discovered outside the apartment.
The detective said police are unsure if the victim knew either Fuqua or the juvenile who has also been charged. He said he doesn’t know how they were in touch with each other involving a gun deal and that police were unfamiliar with Abbate.
Ferizovic said he believes the victim was shot and died between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. No video surveillance cameras have been located in the area, he said.
“Depending who you listen to, there are three or four versions out there to what happened," Cole said. "Police have chosen one. We disagree with what they have chosen.” Attorney Brian White is also on the defense team.
Fuqua, shackled at the waist, wrists and ankles, smiled several times at his family and friends in the courtroom Friday.
After the hearing, Cole filed a motion asking that the court approve an expenditure of $6,500 so the defense team can hire an investigator.