Family members of two young men, one shot while delivering a Domino’s Pizza order and the other accused of playing a role in the killing, came to court Monday morning — but the hearing never happened.
In an apparent oversight, no one took 18-year-old Jontae Davis from the Dorchester County jail to North Charleston Municipal Court, where he faced a preliminary hearing. There, a judge would have decided whether enough evidence exists to move the case forward. Instead, Davis’ case was continued and likely will come up again next month.
Davis, still a junior in high school, accused 19-year-old Stephawn Brown of shooting 20-year-old Maraleius Birdsong on March 9.
Birdsong, who worked at Domino’s to pay for his classes at Trident Technical College, tried to deliver a food order to Appian Way Apartments in North Charleston that evening. The person who answered the door turned him away, so he returned to the parking lot, where two people confronted him.
Assistant Solicitor Russell Hilton said at a previous hearing that Brown demanded the food and then shot Birdsong in the back of his head.
Brown and Davis fled with the order of chicken wings and cinnamon sticks, according to Hilton, and soon after someone pulling into the parking lot found Birdsong’s body and called authorities.
North Charleston police Detective Candy Johnson said investigators traced the Domino’s order to a cell phone registered to Brown’s mother. Brown’s mother told police that the phone belonged to her son, Johnson said.
Although he named Brown as the triggerman, Davis admitted to running away and disposing of Birdsong’s thermal delivery bag after taking the food, according Hilton. Davis faces the same charges of murder and armed robbery as Brown, although his defense attorney suggested at a bond hearing that his client didn’t know that Brown planned to shoot Birdsong.
Birdsong suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and died the next day at Medical University Hospital. His mother, Teresa Gardner, said she draws on prayer and support from family members before each court appearance.
“The most important thing is you hang in there,” Gardner said. “We’ll just be ready and be back for the next one.”
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.