Suspect on trial in 2016 slaying
Witness testimony will begin today in the murder trial of Marquavious Jones, who is accused of killing a 22-year-old man in late 2016.
Jones, 29, is charged with murder in the shooting death of Sha Rif. Jones shot the man Nov. 30, 2016, inside Rif’s SUV after leaving a party and left him to die in the parking lot of a gas station on Fort Wayne’s south side, according to court documents.
In opening statements Monday, Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tesa Helge said evidence including shell casings found in the vehicle and cellphone records prove Jones is guilty. At least one witness saw Jones get into the passenger seat, the spot from where investigators said the fatal shots were fired, she said.
Helge said Jason Layne, a former Allen County Jail inmate, will testify that Jones confessed to the slaying.
Defense attorney Nick Wallace called Layne “a jailhouse snitch” and said prosecutors do not have enough evidence to show Jones was the triggerman.
“What they do have is a couple of people who think Marquavious was involved,” he said. “These people are not credible.”
As Rif was leaving the party, Jones asked for a ride to Foster’s Bar on South Clinton Street, according to court documents. He and another man identified in court documents as “D” got into Rif’s white SUV and headed in that direction, a probable cause affidavit states.
Rif was shot inside the vehicle and tried to make it inside the Marathon gas station at Lafayette and Clinton streets but the door was locked, investigators said. He was found dead in the parking lot around 2 a.m.
The SUV was left running, its door open, Helge said. Two .380-caliber shells were found in the passenger seat, she said.
“This case is about justice for Sha Rif and his family,” Helge said. “It’s about accountability.”
A motive for the killing is not clear, though two female witnesses allegedly told police that Jones was jealous of their friendship with Rif.
Jones was charged with murder last year in Allen Superior Court. Charges also include a firearms enhancement.
Jury selection began Monday morning in the case as lawyers whittled a pool of about 70 potential jurors down to the final 12 : seven women and five men. Two alternates also were chosen.
Dressed in a dark gray button-down shirt and khaki pants, Jones sat with attorneys Wallace and Ryan Gardner. He did not speak.
The trial could last into Friday, Judge John Surbeck said.
Deputy prosecutor Tom Chaille will handle the case with Helge.