Trial of cousin shooting cousin under way in Circuit Court

Published 1:07 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

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NATCHEZ — A family feud led to one cousin allegedly shooting another after a brawl at a family gathering in May 2022, and the legal ramifications of that are being decided at a trial in Adams County.

Jadarrius Knight

Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell on Thursday began the trial of Jadarrius “Louie” Knight, 28, who is charged with aggravated assault with extreme indifference to human life in the shooting of his cousin, Giovanni Dent, 30, on May 22, 2022, at a family event in the 100 block of Saragossa Road in Adams County.

Dent suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to Jackson for treatment, which required three surgeries. Dent, who was the prosecution’s first witness, testified that he was in the hospital for about six days.

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Court began at about 9 a.m., but took until after 3 p.m. to seat a jury consisting of five men and seven women — eight white and four Black — with one white male alternate.

Assistant District Attorney Barbara Ann Bluntson in her opening statement told jurors typically blood is thicker than water, but that was not the case on the night of the fight and shooting.

“Family ties are stronger than any other connections on the planet. They are stronger than friends. They are even stronger than romantic connections. But that isn’t always the case,” Bluntson said.

In her opening statement, Bluntson said a fight ensued at a family gathering and as a result, Knight got a gun, pointed it at Dent, lowered it and shot him in the leg, which shattered his femur in his right thigh, pierced his penis and testicle. Dent lost the testicle and testified he does not know if he is able to father children. He said he is no longer able to participate in physical activities he enjoyed before the shooting, such as football and basketball.

“By the grace of God, Giovanni did survive,” Bluntson said. “There were a multitude of people celebrating the life of another family member who had passed on that night, including young children. Knight showed an extreme indifference for the value of human life when he pulled the gun and shot Giovanni Dent.”

Lead attorney for Knight, Aisha Sanders, deferred her opening statement until the defense begins its case. Attorneys Everett Sanders and Roberta Blackmon are assisting Sanders.

Dent took the stand and described events of the night. He said a fight between two sisters, who are also his cousins, began the brawl. Dent said when he saw the two sisters fighting he went over to try to break it up.

“(Jadarrius) and his mom and (his brother) Jadarrian Knight came over to me and told me that I was wrong and acted like he was gone hit me, so I hit him,” Dent said

Dent said after hitting Jadarrius, he came around a car to get back in the street and saw that Jadarrius had a gun.

“We were standing face to face and he was pointing it at my face. I said, ‘So, you’re gonna shoot me, my n—-?’ And he shot me,” Dent said. “He shot me in my right hip. It went through and hit me in my private area.”

Dent said after getting shot, he fell to the ground.

“(Jadarrius) walked up over me with the gun and his sister started kicking me,” Dent said. “I told him to stop playing. I thought he was going to kill me. I asked, ‘Are y’all going to jump on me while I am shot on the ground?’ ”

Bluntson showed videos from an Adams County Sheriff’s deputy’s body camera of Dent in the emergency department at Merit Health Natchez while waiting to be airlifted to a Jackson hospital. Nurses were working to stabilize Dent while the deputy was talking to him about what happened.

Dent told the deputy he had been shot by Jadarrius Knight.

Sanders objected to the videos being shown multiple times and even on multiple occasions asked for a mistrial. Blackwell overruled her objections and rejected the call for the mistrial.

During cross-examination of Dent, Sanders claimed that instead of Knight shooting Dent, it was actually his brother, Vincent “V.J.” Dent who was the shooter.

Sanders said during the time Giovanni Dent and Jadarrius Knight were fighting, Vincent Dent and Jadarrian Knight were also fighting.

“Wasn’t it actually your brother, V.J., who attempted to shoot Jadarrius and shot you while you were on the ground?” Sanders asked. Dent denied that and again said it was Knight who shot him.

The prosecution’s last witness on Thursday was Janel Blanton, also a cousin of Knight and Dent, who was at the gathering where the fight and shooting occurred and was in the back seat of the vehicle that transported Dent to the hospital.

Blanton said she had witnessed the fight between the sisters and the fight between Jadarrius Knight and Giovanni Dent, the victim, and Jadarrian Knight and V.J. Dent.

After the chaos, she said she walked the shot distance to her grandmother’s front porch, which is when she heard the gunshot.

“I did not see him (Knight) shoot him, but I saw him running away with the gun,” Blanton testified. “I ran to help him and that’s when I saw Jadarrius running with the gun.”

Blanton said while traveling to the hospital, Dent said Knight had gotten the gun from Brandon Brooks. Blanton told police that when they arrived at the hospital.

Brooks, 26, was shot and killed on Aug. 15 along with Taron Woods, 24, in an ambush-style killing by masked men with assault weapons in the yard of a home on Myrtle Drive.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office arrested four men in connection with that killing.

Testimony continued on Thursday until after 7 p.m.

The trial continued Friday morning at 9 a.m. The prosecution rested its case just before noon Friday. The defense was set to begin its case after lunch.