JONESBORO — At 31, Tavares Sanchez Moses was an adult, a physically large man with a short history of skirmishes with the law whose nickname was Tootie Man.
But when he was shot five times last year by armed robbers who then went through his pockets as he lay bleeding to death in a cheap Forest Park motel, all Moses wanted was his mother.
“‘Please call my mother,’ he told his friends,” said Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers. “‘Tell her I’m dying. Please don’t let me die here.’ He was gushing blood onto the carpet in room 105 from not one, not two, not three, not four but five gunshot wounds.”
Moses was not exactly operating within the bounds of the law the morning he was shot, police said. He and his companions, Deandre “Dre” Miller, Jumario Booker, Carlos Wilson and Brenton Carson were in the room “trapping,” or dealing drugs, police said.
The room was filled with drugs, money, guns and about $500 in counterfeit bills, witnesses said.
In fact, that’s what drew the shooters — suspected gang members — to the men, said Powers in her opening statement Wednesday morning. Kyshawn Williams, 22, of Atlanta, Larry Eugene Lupoe, 27, of Forest Park and Jacobey Sean Carter, 25, of Lithia Springs face charges including murder and participation in gang activity.
Powers said Lupoe was pimping three women, including a 17-year-old Mundy’s Mill High School senior, who first encountered the men in the lobby of Home Lodge in Forest Park Aug. 2, 2012. Quandala Nicole Kilgore, 23, of Atlanta was getting a room for herself and Parris Lavajie Stready, 19, of Atlanta and student Sierra Samone Gilliam, now 19, of Forest Park, for the purposes of prostitution.
Booker, who was visiting the men at the motel, testified Wednesday that he witnessed the encounter between Kilgore and his friends. He was hesitant to repeat the words Kilgore used and had to be encouraged to do so by Assistant District Attorney Marcus Thorpe.
“Basically, she was trying to sell her body,” Booker said. “She called herself, ‘Captain,’ and asked them how much they would give her for sex.”
The three women went to the room to discuss their profession but couldn’t help but notice the guns, drugs and money, Gilliam said when she took the stand Wednesday.
When they left the room, Gilliam said, Kilgore told Lupoe what was in the room. She also told him where an armed Carson was sitting. Carson testified that he was waiting on Wilson to come back after taking his girlfriend home so the men could go clubbing.
Carson said he waited more than an hour before deciding to leave. When he left, Moses took his chair. About 10 minutes later, the women returned with an armed Williams and Carter, and unarmed Lupoe, Gilliam said. All three hid their faces, she said.
Booker said the first man who entered the room — identified by Gilliam as Williams — fired at the man sitting where the armed Carson had been just minutes before.
“He shot straight into Tavares,” Booker said. Tavares was unarmed. No one in the room returned fire, witnesses said. The masked men took a shoebox filled with drugs, expensive shoes, cash and the contents of the other men’s pockets, including a dying Moses.
Carson, who is serving time in the Clayton County Jail for violating his probation in an unrelated case, was clearly shaken as he testified.
“It could have been me,” he said.
But attorneys for the men claim their clients are innocent and that the accusations are lies.
“Kyshawn Williams is not guilty,” Andre Sailers said. “He is sorry and sympathetic to the family for the loss of Tavares Moses but he is not responsible for his death.”
Andre Johnson, representing Lupoe, called the state’s case a “house of lies.” He told jurors to keep track of the lies told by state’s witnesses.
Carter’s attorney, Sherri Washington, concurred.
“It’s all lies that Jacobey Carter was involved,” she said. “This is a house of cards that will come crumbling down. All that will be left are the people who pleaded to other charges.”
Washington referred to the alleged prostitutes who were also charged with murder but who pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testifying truthfully against the three men.