One of two men charged with a shooting outside a downtown nightclub now has been charged with two counts of intimidating witnesses in the case.
Morris Deyonte Lanier, 31, was arrested at the Motel 6 on Highway 45 North by the U.S. Marshall’s Service, Lowndes County Drug Task Force and others for two counts of intimidating a witness.
Morris and 24-year-old Terrance Williams were arrested last spring and charged with three counts of aggravated assault after they allegedly fired shots into a car occupied by three women.
The shooting occurred after the nightclub asked some people to leave because of a disturbance inside. The three women — Ashley Briannon Smith, Alexis Smith and India Smith — were in a 2008 Honda Accord driven down Fifth Street South by Ashley Smith in front of the Princess when they say they saw Lanier and Williams pull their guns and shoot at the car, according to court documents.
It happened about 12:50 a.m. March 19. The shooting caused an uproar among downtown businesses and nearby residents and prompted the city to force Princess owner Bart Lawrence to reduce hours and make other significant changes.
Many of those changes have since been relaxed and Lawrence is on the City Council agenda Tuesday night requesting permission to reopen the old theater portion of the business for events. That permission would come with restrictions and stipulations discussed in meetings between Lawrence and city leaders in the last two weeks.
The police press release detailing Lanier’s arrest does not name the witnesses who were intimidated or when the threats were made. In addition to th three Smiths and police investigator Andy Hood, four other witnesses were issued subpoenas for Municipal Court in the case. Those witnesses are Marques Antione Lanier, Brianna Williams, Freddie Uln and Shania Thomas.
While Lanier posted a $200,000 bond last month after being indicted by a Lowndes County Grand Jury and arraigned in Lowndes County Circuit Court, Williams remains in jail. Lanier has a Nov. 27 trial date.
Williams’ indictment was just served on him Sept. 13 and he is not scheduled to be arraigned until Nov. 13.
His mother, Velma Williams, was charged last spring with intimidating a witness for allegedly making threats. But online court records don’t indicate she has been indicted on those charges.
Meanwhile, the three victims have signed victim impact statements saying they don’t want to pursue charges. The statements were signed July 19 and filed in Circuit Court later that month.
In her statement, Ashley Smith says simply, “I don’t want to press charges….I’m tired of it. I got my money back. They have served time. Nobody has threatened me or called me.”
India Smith says, “I would like to withdraw anything having to do with this case, never made a statement, just was a victim in car…It really affected my money and job. I’m a single parent, have two girls and bills. And having to take off work to come to court that get reschedule, so that’s money I lost. Also it was just lucky I didn’t get injured in the car.”
Alexis Smith is more direct.
“Drop charges,” she writes. “I would like to drop charges, because I didn’t see anything.”
District Attorney Scott Colom has not given any indication he doesn’t plan to pursue the charges.