PRATTVILLE -- An Autauga County jury deliberated about two and a half hours Thursday afternoon before declaring that Dre Antwan Deramus was guilty in the Dec. 20, 2012, shooting death of Lamarcus Ramsey.
Ramsey, 20, was shot twice in the head as he sat behind the wheel of his white Buick Regal parked in front of the L.A. Package Store. Deramus, 22, of Prattville faced the jury -- a panel of six men and six women -- and expressed no emotion as the verdict was announced.
Circuit Judge Ben Fuller will set a sentencing date in the future. Deramus was returned to the custody of the Autauga County Sheriff's Office and will remain in the Autauga Metro Jail until sentencing. Murder is a Class A felony, with a punishment range of 20 to 99 years to life in prison, District Attorney Randall Houston said.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney Jerry Blevins said no physical evidence linked Deramus to the murder.
"We, of course, are disappointed in the outcome, but we accept the jury's decision," Blevins said after court recessed.
Assistant District Attorney Ray Hawthorne Jr. handled the prosecution along with Assistant District Attorney Jessica Sanders. During jury selection Monday, Hawthorne told the jury pool it was a circumstantial case. The murder weapon, believed to be a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun, has never been recovered. Deramus' fingerprints or palm prints were not found on the car.
"This was a difficult case to present because it was circumstantial," Hawthorne said. "But when you heard all the witness statements, it made sense that Deramus was the only logical suspect in the murder of Lamarcus Ramsey. The jury used common sense to come to this proper verdict."
If spectators were looking for a Perry Mason moment in the trial, it came Thursday morning when Prattville Police Department Detective Sgt. James Harry was re-called to the stand by the state. Harry was the lead investigator in the case. He testified several witnesses told him Deramus had called Ramsey a "snitch" and that Ramsey's name was "all over" Deramus' court papers.
Ramsey and Deramus were co-defendants in a string of burglary and theft cases, courthouse records show. Ramsey had reached a plea agreement with the district attorney's office on his pending cases, Harry told the jury. Deramus was set to appear in court on his cases Dec. 21, 2012. Ramsey was shot and killed 12 hours before Deramus was set to appear in court.
In fact, officers arrested Deramus on the murder charge as he walked into the courtroom that morning.
During testimony earlier in the trial, two prosecution witnesses placed Deramus at the scene when Ramsey was killed. They both said they did not hear the gunshots that killed Ramsey even though they were parked close to the vehicle in which he was shot.
Terika Ragland and Sherkneequa Davis, both of Millbrook, took the stand Wednesday and said they had driven to Prattville that night to sell an iPhone to Ragland's ex-boyfriend. The women said they picked up Deramus and Eric Zeigler Jr. as the men walked along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, at the ex-boyfriend's request. Ragland was driving, and the group went to a home in the neighborhood, where Deramus was showing people a handgun, Ragland and Davis testified.
"He had it out in the house, flashing it," Ragland said.
After the group left the house, Ragland said Deramus asked her to stop by the package store. At the time, Ramsey was parked in his white Buick Regal in front of the store, she said. Ragland said she pulled up on the side of the store and parked.
On direct examination by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Sanders, Ragland said she saw Deramus walk toward the store and come back to the car about two minutes later. She testified she didn't see a shooting or hear any gunshots.
During her testimony, Davis estimated Ragland's Dodge Charger was parked "five good steps" from Ramsey's car. Davis also testified she saw no shooting and heard no gunshots. On redirect from Sanders, Davis said the windows in the Charger were up because it was cold that night and the radio was playing.
In a videotaped statement to Prattville police detectives during the investigation, Deramus said he had not been to the store that night. That statement was played for the jury Tuesday.
Zeigler told the jury Wednesday that he and Deramus "are like family," and that he broke up a "tussle" between Ramsey and Deramus a couple of days before the slaying. Zeigler said he felt the argument between the two men had been settled.
Marshall Dean, a friend of Deramus and Ramsey, later testified Ramsey had beaten up Deramus "two or three times" two days before the shooting occurred. The day before the shooting following a neighborhood basketball game, Deramus asked another man if he had any bullets, Dean said. The other man told Deramus he did not, Dean testified.