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'Slight altercation' preceded card-game killing

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

An 18-year-old got up from the card game, and a 20-year-old, sitting there, said, "No."

A few minutes later, the teen was shot in the forehead and the older man walked out of the room holding a gun, Clayton County Police Department Detective Michael Medious testified in court Tuesday.

Travis Scott, 18, was killed on Sept. 10, a few minutes after 6 a.m., when he got up from an all-night game of spades. Scott walked into the kitchen of the 5420 Riverdale Road apartment. Jonathan Lavonta Slack, 20, followed, pulling a 9 mm pistol and firing one shot, Medious testified during a probable cause hearing in Clayton County Magistrate Court.

A witness, sitting on the couch in the other room, told police that Scott fell to the kitchen floor and Slack walked out the door, holding the gun, "as if nothing had really happened."

The witness seemed baffled by the shooting, in his written report, and the detective couldn't say what motivated Slack, who was arrested on murder charges.

"I don't know what was the actual spark," he told the judge and prosecutor, Tuesday. "During the night before, they had been playing cards, drinking, doing various types of drugs. There was a slight verbal altercation."

Medious said there were rumors of a debt -- possibly $500, possibly $1,000, possibly from a tax scam -- allegedly owed to a woman in the apartment by one of Scott's relatives. Slack brought up the issue of owed money, at some point during the night, but was told to "let it slide," Medious said. "He was told to just chill," because the debt wasn't Scott's responsibility.

When interviewed by police, at department headquarters, Slack "didn't outright confess," the detective said, but "did make certain admissions."

After being arrested in Atlanta, Slack, sometimes in tears and sometimes belligerent, told detectives "he didn't really mean for what happened to happen," Medious said.

The 20-year-old's defense attorney, Steve Frey, said that he's sorry that it happened, too, but there's still no evidence against Slack.

"I think the most that we've proved this morning is that Mr. Slack is involved in a beehive of criminal activity," Frey said. "Every living soul in that apartment was involved in criminal activity."

Frey questioned the locations of the seven or more people in the apartment, at the time of the shooting. He questioned the number of people in the apartment, and the witnesses' statements.

The primary witness, according to Medious' arrest warrant affidavit, said there were several people in the kitchen at the time of the shooting, which both the defense attorney and the detective agreed meant more than two. Medious could not say, though, who else was in the kitchen, when Scott was killed, and could not say anyone saw Slack pull the trigger.

Magistrate Court Judge Bobby Simmons dismissed the defense's arguments, though, without even hearing the prosecution's response. The judge, reading over the arrest warrant affidavit, said there was a shot fired in the kitchen, and a witness saw Slack walk out of the kitchen with a gun.

"That's probable cause. It's bound over," Simmons said.

The case against Slack will go to a grand jury, where he will face indictment on the murder charges.