DECATUR — A shooting death in Decatur and a death in a car accident involving a methamphetamine-impaired driver were heard by a coroner’s jury on Tuesday.
Jurors met at the Macon County Courthouse and quickly returned a verdict in the case of 32-year-old Stonee O. Adams, who suffered 10 gunshot wounds that his death was the result of a homicide .
And the jury spent just minutes before returning a verdict that impaired driver Jason A. Mason, 53, was the result of an accident.
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Dealing first with the Adams case, jurors heard from Decatur Police Detective Brad Hall. He described patrol officers called to the 100 block of South Dipper Lane at 1.40am on April 9 after reports of gunfire.
Hall said they found Adams with life-threatening injuries and he was later pronounced dead in the emergency room at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Detectives also found a 19-year-old woman who described coming home with Adams after a night out and then being ambushed by an unseen gunman outside her apartment.
The detective said the woman fled on foot as gunshots rang out and returned just a minute later to find Adams, a man she described as only “a friend”, lying on the bed. ground in the parking lot of his apartment.
Interviewed by Macon County Coroner Michael E. Day, it became clear that the shooting suspect who was arrested later that morning, Deonte M. Drake Jr., considered Adams’ relationship with the woman as more than friendly.
“In the interview I conducted with Mr. Drake, he indicated that he was in a romantic relationship with the woman, which made him angry to see her with another man,” Hall said. . “When the woman was asked about it, she denied being in a relationship with Mr. Drake and simply said that their relationship was also ‘friends’.”
Hall said Drake told her he had parked near the woman’s apartment just before she arrived there with the victim, then launched his attack. Drake now pleads not guilty to four other murder charges and is being held in Macon County Jail on bail set at $1.5 million.
Regarding the early morning April 22 death of Mason, jurors heard he had been traveling west on the 2500 block of East Eldorado Street in a Silverado pickup truck when it collided with a semi-trailer.
Patrol Officer Larry Brooks, an expert with the Decatur Police Fatality Investigation Team, said the driver of the eastbound tractor-trailer observed Mason’s vehicle, with a headlight in roadworthy, weaving all the way as 5 a.m. approaches.
Brooks said the semiconductor slowed because he feared a collision but could do nothing to stop Mason’s truck from crashing into the side of his trailer at 41 mph. “The trailer had 55,000 pounds of limestone in it, so it would be like hitting a brick wall,” Brooks said.
Mason had to be freed from the twisting wreckage and suffered multiple injuries which the coroner described as “serious” in a “very devastating accident”. Mason had been pronounced dead at 6 a.m. in the emergency room at Decatur Memorial Hospital.
Day said a blood test showed Mason had enough methamphetamine in his system, along with trace amounts of fentanyl, to severely impair driving ability. And Brooks, answering questions from the coroner, said he doubted Mason was even awake when the accident happened.
Loaded with stimulants, the officer explained, the human body eventually gets tired. “There comes a time when the body says ‘Time out, I’m done, I need to sleep’…” Brooks said analysis of the Silverado truck’s equivalent of a box information recorder black showed that Mason never pressed the brakes or tried to pull away before impact.
“And so, based on that information, that’s why I’m guessing he wasn’t conscious,” he added.
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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid