The drive-by shooting that killed an unintended victim last month was apparently the result of a dispute between gang members vying for leadership in Mayfield.
That conclusion was part of the testimony Mayfield police Detective Nathan Young, the lead detective in the case, gave during a preliminary hearing for Dimetri Ross on Wednesday.
“That’s a nationwide gang,” Young said in response to defense attorney Jeanné Carroll’s question about the Vice Lords gang.
“You’re saying there is a faction of Vice Lords in Graves County?” Carroll asked.
“Correct,” Young testified.
Young said his investigation included talking with more than 70 people along with the service of search warrants and sending evidence to a ballistics laboratory. He has conducted it with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, anonymous tips and confidential informants as well as undercover work.
SaVannah Hancock died from injuries suffered when a bullet pierced the door of her duplex June 18 at 702 W. Lee St. Wednesday’s hearing concerned a May drive-by shooting at the other end of the duplex, 704 W. Lee St. The same two men are now charged in both cases, and some testimony overlapped both cases.
Mayfield police also continued to search for a woman in connection with Hancock’s death. Hayden Dunigan is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Young said she had been Ross’ girlfriend.
Graves District Judge Deborah Hawkins Crooks found probable cause at the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing that Ross had committed the offense of complicity to attempted murder in connection with the May shooting. That finding allows the case to proceed to the grand jury for further consideration.
Young testified he had interviewed two people, both of whom said Stanford Shelton was driving the car the night of the May shooting and that Ross fired shots into the duplex. One said Shelton gave Ross the gun to use. The intended victim, Jerrod Powell, also known as Jerrod Dale, lived at 704 W. Lee St. at the time and was at home but not hurt.
Shelton is also charged with complicity to murder in the May shooting case. Shelton is charged with murder in Hancock’s death, and Ross is charged with complicity to commit murder in that case.
Ross, Shelton and Powell are all members of the Vice Lords, Young testified.
“Ross is below Shelton in the division of command,” he said. “They said Mr. Ross has to do whatever Mr. Shelton says.”
Twice, he referred to statements from people he had spoken with, saying, “They were saying Mr. Shelton was coordinating everything.”
Young identified Powell as the leader of the Vice Lords in Mayfield and said Shelton wanted to take over that leadership.
The ATF had video of the May shooting, which it provided to Mayfield police. Young said the Toyota Camry used was one that Dunigan normally drove. Police have seized the vehicle.
Young added that police have obtained at least four firearms, including a revolver a witness said resembled one used in one of the drive-by shootings. Police also recovered a bullet from the residence at 704 W. Lee St. Investigators saw bullet holes into the duplex at both ends, he said.
Ross was arraigned by video earlier in the day Wednesday in the case involving Hancock’s death. In that case he entered a not guilty plea, and Crooks appointed the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy to represent him. She also made part of his $500,000 cash bond conditions that he have no contact with Shelton and that he not possess a firearm. Crooks said his preliminary hearing in that case for Wednesday, July 24.
Shelton was not transported to Mayfield in time for his scheduled arraignment Wednesday, and the judge rescheduled it for Monday.
Graves County Attorney John Cunningham said he was unaware of the Vice Lords being in Mayfield until hearing the testimony in court Wednesday.
“I have no more knowledge of that than what I heard today,” he said.
Wednesday afternoon’s hearing came with increased security measures not used earlier in the day. Court security officers used a hand-held wand to check for metal and required those in attendance to empty out their pockets. Officer Wade Heatherly said the reason was because the case is high profile.