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Murder suspect arrested based on one witness

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

On the weight of one witness' word, Clayton County Police detectives arrested a 23-year-old man and charged him with murder and aggravated assault.

Detective Renan Lopez testified, at a probable cause hearing in Clayton County Magistrate Court, Tuesday, that there was no physical evidence, connecting Anthony O'Neil Gibbs, Jr., 23, to the shooting-death of 20-year-old, Kevin Jean-Jacques.

Lopez said there "wasn't much" of a crime scene at the Majic Food Mart, at 728 Mt. Zion Road. The murder suspect only admitted to being at the scene and there was only one witness cooperating with the investigation.

"It's difficult -- I don't want to say 'difficult.' It's challenging to speak with anyone [at the Majic Mart], because no one there wants to speak to us," Lopez told defense attorney Thomas Robinson.

Jean-Jacques was brought to Southern Regional Medical Center on Sept. 19, with a bullet lodged in the left side of his chest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Alfred Wheeler, a friend and co-worker of Jean-Jacques, said the two had been buying drinks at the convenience store that evening. They were driving out of the parking lot, when a man with short dread locks ran outside and fired a single shot into the car, hitting Jean-Jacques in the shoulder, Wheeler told police.

Detectives Lopez and Steven Rotella couldn't find any other witnesses, and found nothing in the parking lot indicating the shooting had happened.

Wheeler told them he didn't know the man who had fired the gun, didn't know the other men in the food mart at the time, and didn't know why the man wanted to shoot the 20-year-old.

He did say "there was some sort of mistaken identity," Lopez testified, when Jean-Jacques was called by his brother's name, but there was no indication that mistake was connected to the shooting.

The detectives' only lead came from someone who wasn't at the scene of the shooting. A man called them after reading the newspaper's account of the crime, Lopez said, and named Gibbs as someone matching the description of the shooter and someone known to hang out at the Majic Mart.

The 23-year-old was apprehended at the Mt. Zion food mart, a week and a half after the shooting. He was interviewed by Lopez at police headquarters.

For the first 45 minutes, the detective testified, Gibbs maintained he had been at home at the time of the shooting. "Ultimately," Lopez said. "He stated that he was there and he heard the shot and he saw the car leaving the parking lot."

Wheeler picked Gibbs' face out of a photographic lineup, and police arrested the 23-year-old, charging him with murder and aggravated assault.

At the time of the shooting, a police spokesman said there were "some inconsistencies" in Wheeler's statements to police. Lopez' testimony didn't clear up those inconsistencies, Tuesday, or fill in any details missing from Wheeler's written statement.

Magistrate Judge Bobby Simmons listened to the testimony and found the detectives had probable cause to arrest Gibbs. The case was bound over to Superior Court, where it will go to a grand jury for possible indictment.