This case plays out like the plot of a Hollywood movie. Demetric Tatum, 35, had been shot some time ago before his death and he knew who pulled the trigger. He was going to testify in court against the shooter. But investigators say someone hired Donkavius Howard, 23, to kill Tatum so he could not testify. A note from a family member, flowers and candles mark the spot where Tatum was gunned down in front of his two small children.
"Mr. Tatum was seemingly minding his own business when he was shot. So I mean it's certainly a very tragic case," Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles said.
His quiet Clay Avenue neighborhood was stunned when gunshots rang out the night of February 1st.
"[It happened] six houses down. It's kind of scary, you know, because it's not common around here," Lorie Hordraker said.
In her 47 years living on Clay Avenue, Lorie Hordraker has seen just about everything. But she never expected to hear about a homicide. After weeks with no news, she was relieved when she found out that Rochester Police made an arrest.
"That the first time I heard there was one, so I'm glad," she said.
A complicated plot unfolded as Howard made his first appearance in court Thursday.
"He was hired. The allegation or our theory is that he was hired by somebody to kill Mr. Tatum," Duckles said.
That allegation leads to a rare first degree murder charge, carrying heavy penalties.
"I believe [sentencing] starts at 20 [years] to life and goes up to life without the possibility of parole," Duckles said.
Things are back to normal on Clay Avenue.
"I still feel really safe in the neighborhood. All of our neighbors look out for everybody," Hordraker said.
Howard remains behind bars without bail. He is expected back in court on February 25th. Prosecutors say more charges are expected to be filed. So far no other arrests have been made.
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