Murder charge bound over in drug-deal shooting

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Kathy Jefcoats


Murder and other charges against a Jonesboro man were bound over for grand jury presentment following a preliminary hearing Tuesday afternoon in Clayton County Magistrate Court.

Clayton County Police Detective Jeffery Gant testified that Zachary Powell told friends that Kerrith Bryce Peterson was shot during a June 5 drug deal.

"He told witnesses he and Peterson 'went to do a job and it went wrong,'" Gant testified.

Gant said testimony showed the two men went to the Marquise Grande Apartments on Tara Boulevard under the pretext of buying two pounds of marijuana from Jose Hugo Ortiz, 20. In reality, Gant said, the men intended to rob Ortiz and two others inside the apartment.

Gant said Powell pointed his gun at Ortiz, which caused Ortiz to draw and fire toward Powell and Peterson. The pair turned to run out the door and Peterson, 20, was hit in the back and died a short time later, Gant said.

Powell fled the scene as officers arrived in response to a call about shots fired, said Gant. Powell then tried to create the illusion that he was a bystander with no knowledge of the shooting.

"He said he just waited outside by the vehicle and that he saw a person with dreadlocks running away and that a third person in the vehicle stole it, leaving him behind," said Gant. "He said Peterson sent him a text, 'I'm OK, let's get out of here' and then Powell deleted the text from his phone."

But Gant said Peterson could not have texted anyone.

"He was dying," said Gant. "He was asking for water. That's all he could do."

District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson asked that all of the charges be bound over for grand jury presentment. Magistrate Beatrice Scott agreed over the objections of defense attorney Ifuero Obaseki. Ortiz and Powell are being held without bond in the Clayton County Jail.