Three young men accused of committing a homicide in Fitchburg were in court Thursday morning for preliminary proceedings. All three waived their right to a preliminary hearing and will have their cases moved forward for further proceedings. All three have plead not guilty.
The young men were supported in court by at least half a dozen friends and family who both cried and expressed sorrow at the plight of kids they say the community has failed.
Joshua McInnis, Gary Mays Jr, and Travon Jackson are on trial for the death of 20 year old Julian Patterson at the New Fountain Apartments on March 13.
According to reports, two of the three men allegedly held up Patterson and his girlfriend during a Marijuana deal in the parking lot of New Fountain. During a scuffle one of the men is alleged to have shot Patterson once in the arm and torso causing injuries that led to his death.
The two men involved with the direct homicide, Mays and McInnis, were arrested during a traffic stop later that night and are also alleged to have been involved along with Jackson in the assault of a 16 year old worker at Super Target on McKee road.
According to criminal complaints, Jackson had set up a marijuana deal with Khariyhana Martin, the girlfriend of the deceased Patterson. Martin and Jackson were set to complete the deal in the parking lot of the New Fountain Apartments. Martin says that when she got to the apartment parking lot, Jackson was nowhere to be found and that Mays and McInnis instead were there to complete the deal. They got in her vehicle and proceeded to rob her and her boyfriend of the marijuana.
Following an ensuing scuffle, McInnis is alleged to have shot Patterson in the arm and torso. Patterson later died of the wounds.
The young men now on trial have garnered support from some members of the community in Fitchburg, however, many of whom feel that their plight is related to larger issues in the city.
Derrick McCann, whose mother Wanda Smith mentored the boys in an after school program which was effectively shut down by the City of Fitchburg, says that lack of community resources in Fitchburg led directly to these boys having a self-destructive mindset. McCann, who sought to have a rally on the defendants’ behalf Thursday morning, says there should have been more options for these kids so that they didn’t feel like turning to crime was their only choice.
“As positive role models in the community we’re supposed to be here to offer them guidance,” McCann told Madison365. “That is what the City of Fitchburg failed to do. Fitchburg failed to support programs in the community.”
McCann said that the lack of youth resources in Fitchburg today is part of the what made these youths lives more difficult. He said the kids have nowhere to go and nothing to do in the Fitchburg area that is positive, despite his and his mother Wanda Smith’s attempts at providing that structure.
“We’re dealing with poverty and racial disparity,” McCann said. “What happened with this case should have never happened. We could have saved these kids. Fitchburg failed these kids so the blood is on their hands. Their lives do matter and we wanted to show up and show that they matter.”
McCann said they need programs to be funded around Fitchburg in order to help more youth so that things like this don’t happen again.
The defendants’ next court date is not yet set.