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Trial in shooting death set April 28

JONESBORO — The trial for two men accused in the October 2012 shooting death of a third man has been set April 28, said a Clayton County judge Friday morning.

Demario Askew, 36, of Jonesboro and Tracey H. Strozier, 42, entered not guilty pleas to multiple murder and weapons charges. Unable to post bond, Askew is being held in Clayton County Jail. Strozier has been released, according to court documents.

The two were indicted in February in the Oct. 13, 2012, shooting death of Christopher Montanna Wilson, 23.

Police said Wilson was shot inside a room at Magnolia Bay Motel on Southside Commercial Parkway in Jonesboro. Both suspects were also shot and discovered by police at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield set a motion day for April 24 with jury selection to start the trial April 28.

According to Georgia Department of Corrections records, Strozier served just over two years of an eight-year sentence in state prison for a cocaine conviction in Fulton County before being released in February 2004.

A Decatur man accused of stealing an SUV and driving it away as the owner tried to hold on to it entered a guilty plea Friday morning to multiple charges.

Prosecutors said Robert Stokes, 27, stole a 2005 Ford Explorer and drove it away while the owner held onto it Jan. 5, 2013. He was charged with theft by taking, entering an auto, battery and driving on a suspended license. In exchange for his guilty plea to the other charges, the state dropped the entering auto count.

Benefield sentenced Stokes to two years to serve in prison.

A former dollar store employee opted for trial on a single charge of felony theft by taking. Delores Dawson Brown, 51, of Lithonia, is accused of stealing more than $3,000 from the store during her time as assistant manager.

Brown was arrested in July and later released on $8,000 bond. Prosecutors said she failed to appear for her arraignment and bond was revoked. Brown was re-arrested March 10 but told Benefield she never received notice to be back in court.

In court Friday morning, prosecutors recommended Brown serve two years of a 10-year sentence in prison if she pleaded guilty to the charge. Brown countered the offer with probation and asked for her previous bond to be reinstated.

“I’m inclined to accept the recommendation, given her priors,” said Benefield. “She is on probation for theft by conversion and her successful completion of probation was for forgery.”

Because Brown failed to return to court when out on bond, prosecutors asked for $15,000. Benefield doubled Brown’s original bond to $16,000 and had Brown read her address into the record.

An Ellenwood man admitted his guilt to two counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 10 years, to serve five in state prison, followed by five on probation.

Cruz Natanel Canoflores, 19, must also register as a sex offender upon his release, Benefield ordered. Canoflores entered his plea with the help of a Spanish language interpreter.

Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Travis Meyer said a 6-year-old girl made an outcry March 18, 2013, that Canoflores engaged in inappropriate touching with her. Meyer said the child’s parents were present in the courtroom and agreed with the recommended sentence.

Meyer said Canoflores was the husband of the woman who ran a day care center where the child stayed.

Raymond Cardell Washington, 29, of College Park is a registered sex offender for a 2005 rape conviction in Louisiana but he allegedly failed to provide a valid address in Clayton County. Court records show Washington has been arrested more than a half dozen times in 11 years.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of three years to serve in prison if Washington pleaded guilty to both cases. However, Washington, who entered the courtroom in a wheelchair, rejected the offer and his case was set for trial.

A Morrow woman who refused to appear to testify as a witness in a 2012 drug trial was held in contempt and ordered to spend the next 15 days in Clayton County Jail.

Dariel Decuire appeared before Benefield with her attorney who argued in favor of a fine but no jail time. The attorney told Benefield Decuire is seven months pregnant and the single mother of three small children.

Prosecutors said Decuire lied about her whereabouts to avoid the subpoena and flatly refused to come into court to testify against Patrick Griffin. Decuire was arrested but released on $50,000 bond and made another failure to appear for a court date, said prosecutors.

Because of her past attitude toward the court, prosecutors asked for $60,000 bond. Benefield set one at $30,000 and ordered Decuire serve 15 days in jail. Decuire was immediately taken into custody and her children went home with a neighbor.

A Palmetto probationer pleaded not guilty to trying to pay his $100 fee with counterfeit $20 bills. Darrin Hutto, 45, is charged with forgery in the first degree. Defense attorney Ricky Morris said Hutto was unaware the money was fake.

“He has a mechanic shop and that’s where the money came from,” said Morris. “We have the receipt. Part of the counterfeit statute is that he knew or had to know the bills were fake. He absolutely said he had no idea.”