More than three years after an Opelika man was killed, the trial of the suspect, who has been charged with murder before, began on Tuesday.
Vantavious Quintez Hughley, 24, of Opelika was charged with murder for the second time after Shaqueille O. Jones, 23, was shot to death on July 11, 2017, when police say the two argued over a gun in the North Antioch Circle neighborhood of Opelika.
Former Opelika Police Officer Dezman Colquitt testified Tuesday that he was the first to arrive on the scene after a woman in the neighborhood flagged him down while he was on patrol.
Colquitt’s body camera footage, which was entered into evidence for the case, showed Jones lying in the parking lot the afternoon of the incident unresponsive after having been shot. Hughley was nowhere to be seen.
Hughley fled the scene where Jones body lay, and police arrested him 15 days later and charged him with murder, according to court documents.
Both Hughley and Jones had guns in the parking lot in North Antioch the day Jones was killed, and Assistant District Attorney Clay Thomas said Hughley tried to take Jones’ gun before things became violent.
“We believe the evidence is going to show that Mr. Hughley tried to take Mr. Jones’ gun or initiated an altercation fighting over it,” Thomas said during court on Tuesday. “Mr. Jones pushes Hughley away and [Hughley] pulls out a gun and shoots him at least one time … that went straight through his heart and kills him dead right there on North Antioch.”
Defense attorney Lauryn Lauderdale said the shooting was an act of self-defense on Hughley’s part and did not qualify as murder.
“Mr. Vantanvious Quintez Hughley did not set out to kill Shaquielle Jones,” Lauderdale said. “We expect the evidence to show that Mr. Jones was armed with a .40 caliber pistol. He also had not one, but two magazines filled with 14 40mm bullets each. We expect to show that Mr. Jones did show his weapon first, and we also expect the evidence to show that Mr. Jones fired his weapon.”
Thomas said the state’s evidence will prove Hughley murdered Jones before running from the scene, and that the murder was not an act of self-defense.
“I can tell you right now there’s not going to be any credible evidence that Shaquielle Jones brandished his weapon or shot it at all,” Thomas said. “There was no reason for Vantavious Hughley to shoot this man. You cannot be the initial aggressor and then claim self-defense.”
Hughley was previously charged with murder when he was a 17-year-old student at Opelika High School in 2014 after Alizah Ellis, 17, of Opelika was shot in the chest and died.
A grand jury gave an issuance of no bill and did not indict Hughley, after probable cause was found in the case, court documents show.
Hughley was also arrested and charged in connection to a 2015 robbery of a victim at gunpoint and again in 2016 for breaking and entering a motor vehicle, carrying a pistol unlawfully and being a minor in possession of alcohol.