On Sept. 12, twelve jurors found Ricquavious Tarver guilty in the murder of Roosevelt Demmons.
The jurors deliberated for one hour and 45 minutes and reached the guilty verdict. Superior Court judge Harold Hinesley sentenced Tarver to life plus five years with the possibility for parole. Tarver has to serve a minimum of 30 years in confinement before the possibility of parole.
The trial began on Sept. 10 and ended at approximately 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12.
Tarver, 24, was on trial in McDuffie County Superior Court for the Aug. 27, 2016 shooting murder of Roosevelt W. Demmons, 32, at CC’s Carwash on East Hill St. in Thomson.
Tarver, of 1700 block of Garthright Road in Warrenton, was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The jury found him guilty on all charges.
Prior to returning a verdict, the jury had questions about the definition of the charges and wanted to be able to look at those definitions while deliberating. As the judge and the attorneys worked to respond to the request, the jury had worked through its questions by reviewing their notes taken during the trial.
Since there were questions, the attorney’s requested that the jury be polled to affirm that each juror had given a voluntary response to finding Tarver guilty.
"You are 24 years old and don't have a trial record," the judge said during sentencing. "It's possible that your life can be salvaged, but it depends on how you behave for the next 30 years in the prison system."
The judge called this a very violent crime and a very violent killing, and prior to sentencing, the judge said he was torn.
Before sentencing, Tarver addressed the court and expressed remorse.
"I am very sorry this happened," Tarver said. "I wish it would've happened in a more peaceful way. And to my family, I'm going to miss you all."
Representing Tarver, who is the son of Taliaferro County Deputy Ricky Tarver, was Danny Durham of the Durham Law Firm in Augusta and Cheryl Gracey of the Dallas Law Firm in Thomson. Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney William “Bill” Doupe´ and Assistant District Attorney Debra Neumann, along with GBI Agent Michael Petry, were prosecutors in the trial.
Shortly before 6 p.m., on Aug. 27, 2016, McDuffie 911 received a call about shots being fired at CC’s Car Wash on East Hill Street.
When the Thomson Police Department arrived on the scene, officers found the body of a man who had been shot. The man was identified as Roosevelt Wendell Demmons of Ansley Drive in Thomson.
“This defendant took a .45 caliber firearm and shot an unarmed man,” said Doupe´ in his opening statement to the court. He said Demmons and Tarver had argued and when Demmons turned and walked away, Tarver shot him. “The defendant circled around and pumped eight rounds into his body,” the district attorney said.
Doupe´ said the negativity between the two men stemmed from an altercation the two had at least five months before the shooting where Demmons accused Tarver of working for the police because of his father’s job and that law enforcement was allegedly watching him. He said the case was one of the most violent cases he has ever dealt with. He said the murder rocked the Thomson-McDuffie community and was relieved by the verdict. He said he hopes that the verdict sends a message to those who chose to settle disputes with violence.
Durham, in his opening statement, said the case was about self-defense. Throughout the trial, he sought to prove that Tarver sought to protect himself from Demmons.
“Anytime a person kills is an unfortunate thing,” Durham said. He informed the court that Tarver had a concealed weapons permit and carried a handgun. “People have concealed weapons for self-protection,” he said.
After his client was found guilty, he said the system of justice has to be respected. “We have to respect our system of justice even if we don’t understand it,” Durham said. He said that Tarver did not use good judgment and understands that he has to pay for his crime. He asked the judge for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. “Don’t just close that dark door forever,” he said. “I believe that he could be salvaged.”
The Demmons family was present during the. At times, some left the room when graphic testimony and evidence was presented.
“Justice has been served,” said Rosella Mitts, an aunt to Demmons. “We lost a nephew but the Tarver family lost a son too,” she said.
Another aunt, Janice Berry, called Tarver’s actions unspeakable. “What you did was unspeakable. You have destroyed so many families,” she said while also telling Tarver that the Demmons family forgives him. “We don’t hold grudges. God does not bless people who hold grudges.”
Cassandra Jones told the court that she never thought that she would be raising the 13 year-old son that she and Demmons had together alone. She said the death of Demmons has been difficult for her son.
Tarver’s parents were in the courtroom through the entire trial. When the guilty verdict was announced, Ricky Tarver was emotional.
He told the court that he was “remorseful” about the entire situation. “The Roosevelt Demmons family lost a son but I am losing a son as well,” he said. “I have not slept a day since this happened. If I had known what was going on, I would have stepped in. I could have saved somebody’s life. To Roosevelt’s family, I am sorry. ”