Trial set to begin for man charged in 2016 murder with body found in truck bed

February 21, 2019

A jury has been selected and a trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning for an Aiken man charged in connection with the murder of a 21-year-old man found dead in the back of a truck on Rushton Road in September 2016.

Dawon Jacques Wells, 21, is charged with the murder of Denzel Bates, along with two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime and unlawful carrying of a pistol, according to jail records.

He also faces an attempted murder charge stemming from a separate shooting incident in July 2016, which occurred in the parking lot of the Kalmia Apartments complex in Graniteville and left one man hospitalized from a gunshot wound.

On Sept. 21, 2016, Aiken Public Safety officers responded to Rushton Road near Wrights Mill Road, after receiving 911 calls concerning a body discovered in the bed of a Dodge truck, according to the report.

The Aiken County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Bates.

A joint investigation into the murder by both Aiken Public Safety and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of Wells in March 2017; the investigation also led to the arrests of Tiffany Nicole Grimes and Johnny Renard Frazier – both of whom were charged with accessory after the fact of murder, records show.

Aiken County investigators received information that the murder may have occurred in the Crosland Park area of Aiken, police reported.

During a six-month investigation into Bates’ murder, both agencies followed leads, completed interviews and collected evidence, which led to the determination that the murder occurred at 1276 George St., and the three suspects were involved, according to a release.

Wells’ trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Aiken County courthouse on Park Avenue in downtown Aiken.