Guilty on all counts was the verdict Chief Judge Christopher Edwards received from the Upson Superior Court jury in the case of the State versus Dantazias Jamal Raines Wednesday afternoon. Judge Edwards sentenced Raines,18, to life in prison without parole, plus 19 years for the murder of cab driver Brandy Turner Guined on December 21, 2011. Raines has been incarcerated in the Upson County Jail since December 24, 2011 when he was arrested for the crime.
The trial began in Upson Superior Court Monday with Assistant District Attorneys Ben Coker and Michael Rogers representing the D.A.’s office and Public Defender Alan Adams and Assistant Public Defender Monica Hamlett representing the defense.
When opening statements were made, Coker described the night of the crime to the jury. On the night she was shot and killed, Guined, a taxi driver for City Cab of Thomaston, had been dispatched to 202 Avenue N for a pickup and upon arrival was flagged down by Raines at the intersection of Avenue N and 3rd Street. As he entered the rear passenger side of the cab, Raines pulled a gun (a Highpoint .380 pistol) in an attempt to rob Guined and ended up shooting her in the back right shoulder. He fled and Guined was able to drive down Barnesville Street to the 7-11 convenience store before her car ran off the road and hit a fence.
She later succumbed to her injuries, which according to Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat, Associate Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), were a gunshot wound to the torso with perforations to the liver and portal vein. Eisenstat also told the court that there was no way this wound could have been self inflicted.
After hearing testimony from Officer Ford of the Thomaston Police Department and GBI Special Agent Jeremy Dockins, who worked the scene, the state called Terrell Searcy to the stand. Searcy’s name had come up when authorities were canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone heard or saw anything the night of the crime. When questioned by authorities, Searcy stated he was walking to Triune Village on the day after Guined was murdered when he was picked up and given a ride by his friend Reginald Dawson and another passenger who he later discovered was Raines. During the car ride, the subject of the murder came up and Raines stated he had heard a gunshot at the end of Avenue N after hearing people arguing and had seen the cab come by him on Barnesville Street. It appeared to Searcy that Raines knew more than he should about what had happened that night.
The state also called Dawson to the witness stand, who at the time of the incident was involved in a relationship with Raines’ mother. Dawson confirmed he had picked up Searcy the morning after the murder occurred but claimed he could not remember the conversation that had taken place. After viewing a video of his interview with authorities, Dawson admitted that he remembered the conversation and on the tape he stated that it caused him to suspect that Raines at least knew something about the incident; so much so that he spoke with Raines’ mother, telling her she needed to talk to her son because something wasn’t right.
The defense countered that neither of these witnesses stated they heard Raines said he committed the crime, just that he may have known something. However, the next witness called by the state had evidence that Raines had in fact shot Guined.
Marquarious Traylor, 17, a neighbor of Raines, was with him the night of the murder. He stated that Raines had texted him to see if he was home and came to his house around 11 p.m. before he had the chance to answer. Raines told him he had a “sweet lick to hit,” which is slang for robbing somebody. He asked to borrow Traylor’s iPod, which had an app that allowed you to text and make phone calls. Traylor stated that he went inside to get a jacket because he was going with Raines and in that time Raines made the call to the cab company. When Raines flagged down the cab, Traylor kept walking down the street, but looked over his shoulder and saw him pull the gun. He then ran home when he heard the gun shot and a woman scream. He contacted Raines later that evening and asked if he shot the driver to which Raines responded “Hell yeah.”
Fearing someone may try to say he was the one who shot Guined, Traylor decided to secretly record a conversation between himself and Raines the next day in which he asked Raines what happened. On the recording, which was played for the court, Raines stated that Guined tried to grab the gun and he got nervous and shot her. Traylor can be heard on the recording saying to Raines that he shouldn’t have shot her and Raines stating that “they ain’t got no case.” Raines also can be heard telling Traylor to erase the text messages and his name from his iPod as well as trying to get the story straight of where he was that evening.
In return for his testimony, Traylor was promised immunity by Coker, meaning he could not be charged in any way as a connection to the crime.
The gun used in the crime was found in January of this year during a search warrant issued for property involved in a different case. While the state was able to match the bullet used to shoot Guined to the gun found, they were unable to trace it back to Raines. The defense argued that all the jury had to go on was Traylor’s word and stated he was motivated to testify against Raines in order to keep himself out of trouble. However, after two hours of deliberation, the jury decided the confession made by Raines on the tape was enough and found him guilty.
Before the judge handed down sentencing Wednesday afternoon, Guined’s mother, sister and daughter all made pleas that the maximum sentence of life without parole be given to Raines. Sherry Turner, Guined’s mother told Raines that he had ruined Christmas for their family and the holidays would never be the same and that she hoped he remembered her daughter’s face until he takes his last breath. Before she stepped off the stand, Turner made one final statement to Raines.
“You didn’t just mess up our family by doing this, you messed up yours too. Everybody is hurting.”
Raines will be transported from the Upson County Jail to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia.