Murder charges dropped against trio in teen's death
First-degree murder charges have been dropped against Corey Demel Cheek Jr., Gary Holden and Remeke Holden.
Each was facing the charge, among others, in the Feb. 21 shooting death of 17-year-old Ja’Quon Ty’Ree Seward. Allison Capps, an assistant district attorney, said the decision was made after the autopsy report of Dr. Clay Nichols was received.
In Nichols’ report, a gunshot to the chest was the cause of death.
In court documents filed last week, Capps wrote of the first-degree murder charges for each, “… it is apparent to the state that Mr. Seward died of a close range shot to the chest. That evidence, along with other physical evidence and witness statements, makes prosecution for this charge impossible.”
Capps said each of the three defendants are still facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, discharging a firearm in the city, felony inciting a riot and felony gang pattern activity.
“Based on the evidence we have, this is what the charges will be,” Capps said.
Daquan Marcus Ortiz was charged with voluntary manslaughter. An unnamed 14-year-old juvenile was also charged in the case.
Seward was shot to death at the intersection of Davis and Nicholas streets. He was found by police, and taken to Maria Parham Medical Center where he died.
According to investigative notes of Henderson police, a challenge to fight escalated into use of firearms between Ortiz and members of the Shotta Gang.
According to police, Ortiz came from his home at 249 Davis Street because Cheek, Gary Holden and Remeke Holden and other members of the Shotta Gang wanted to fight. Seward and Ortiz fought one-on-one until Seward was hit by the gunshot that killed him.
Investigators sought video footage of the incident from Tamika Holden and Eddie Davis, who they identified as either at the scene or associated with keeping it contained in a cellphone at 128 S. Elizabeth St.
The autopsy report signed for public release by Nichols answered a forensic question, explaining Seward was shot from the front and not the back.
According to Nichols, the character of the perforation wounds would “at first glance” indicate the bullet entered the back and exited the chest. His conclusion draws from an area of soot to indicate gunfire was in front.
Cheek, 17, of 315 Davis St., Henderson, is also charged in the February 2012 shooting death of Jerry Olandes Wright.
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