Jury trial begins

Published 11:39 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The jury trial of a second person accused in the murder of 18-year-old TyQuan Lewis in August 2010 began on Wednesday.

Randy Sherrod Copeland Jr. is charged with first-degree murder. A co-defendant, Dontaz Latray Wilkerson, already has been found guilty and was sentenced to 63 years in prison in August.

Attorneys were only able to get through jury selection, opening arguments and a handful of first-responder witnesses before the trial wrapped up for the day.

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According to testimony during Wilkerson’s trial, the incident began at a party at the Bethlehem Ruritan Club building on Manning Road.

Party guests were charged $5 each to get in and could purchase alcohol — both beer and hard liquor — once in the door.

At some point during the night, a fight broke out between Wilkerson and another man. Lewis broke up the fight.

Lewis and some friends left and went to McDonald’s on Holland Road, as well as some other locations in the downtown area, including one where they met up with Wilkerson’s girlfriend and argued with her.

Then, Lewis got a phone call, and the group went to Walnut Street, near the elementary school in a residential neighborhood, with the understanding that they would fight.

As Lewis and three others with him exited the car, Wilkerson appeared across the street and began shooting. One bullet hit Lewis in the jaw and lodged in the back of his neck, causing fatal injuries. Remarkably, none of his companions was injured.

When the gunfire ended, the three friends returned to the car, which was parked across from the school’s main entrance. They found Lewis lying beside the car, bleeding from a wound to the jaw from a bullet that had lodged in the back of his neck.

According to police reports at the time, Copeland provided the weapon Wilkerson used to fire the fatal shots.