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Witness in Lynchburg homicide case gets suspended sentence on firearm-related charge

A Lynchburg man previously found guilty of four felonies in connection with a December 2019 robbery and homicide case will not serve any further jail time after a judge dismissed three of those counts Wednesday.

Dakota Daquan Scott, 28, pleaded no contest in Lynchburg Circuit Court in February to charges of robbery, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and conspiracy to commit robbery.

As a result of a mistrial in March in the case of Devon Corleogne Bailey, a Lynchburg teen accused of murder in the Dec. 28, 2019, shooting death of Darius Saunders Jr., 31, Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison said the commonwealth was dropping the three charges against Scott.

On a remaining count of attempted receipt of a stolen firearm, Judge F. Patrick Yeatts sentenced Scott to five years with all time suspended and ordered 18 months of probation.

Scott served five-and-a-half months on the charges, Harrison said. The commonwealth is not seeking any additional incarceration, she said.

Scott testified as a witness for the commonwealth in Bailey’s trial in March. After more than seven hours of deliberations, the jury acquitted Bailey of robbery and using a firearm in commission of a robbery. A mistrial was declared on the murder count after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict. Bailey, who according to court records turns 18 on June 23, maintained his innocence.

Court records show Bailey now is charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. A jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 8 in Lynchburg Circuit Court.

The jury deciding to acquit Bailey of robbery factored into the decision to drop the three charges against Scott, according to Harrison.

Responding to a call at about 8 p.m. the night of Saunders’ death, police arrived to find Bailey, 15 at the time, in the middle of the intersection at Maple and Hazel streets with a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was accompanied to the hospital, where officers received a cellphone belonging to him.

At the scene, officers discovered a blood trail that started where Bailey was found and led back to a duplex in the 600 block of Gum Street. In the apartment, officers found Saunders dead from a gunshot wound to the chest with several cellphones and a bag of marijuana near him, according to evidence in Bailey’s trial.

In line with the blood trail, officers found a Smith & Wesson .38 Special in the 700 block of Franklin Street with two intact bullets and two spent shell casings, Harrison said during previous court proceedings.

Officers executed a search warrant on the phone recovered from the teen and found Facebook Messenger conversations between two users — one of whom Scott later admitted was him, and another who prosecutors believe was the teenager — setting up an opportunity for Scott to purchase a gun that would be delivered by the other user’s “little bro ... wearing a gray jacket,” Harrison said.

After police arrested Bailey that night, police executed a search warrant on Scott’s home, where he was at the time. They brought him to the department for an interview, where Scott denied knowing the teen.

Scott said he had been in discussions about purchasing a firearm and he planned to sell the gun in New York. When Bailey arrived with the gun, Scott planned to give him “fake cocaine” but Bailey said he wanted marijuana instead, which Scott did not have, according to Harrison’s evidence. The teen said he would “hit a lick” for the marijuana, which an officer testified is slang for robbery.

According to Harrison, Scott knew Saunders sold marijuana and lived up the street, which prompted Scott to text Saunders asking if he was home and had any marijuana on him.

Scott told officers Bailey threw the gun Scott was to purchase into some bushes around his house, and they walked down Hazel Street to where Scott could point out Saunders’ residence. Scott heard a “loud bang” after Bailey entered the residence, according to Harrison.

Scott told officers he ran to his home on Maple Street, where he saw Bailey return roughly 15 minutes later and discovered the teenager had been shot in the arm.

Harrison said during Scott’s interview at the police station he said knowing Saunders, he thinks Saunders shot Bailey. Scott then said he believes the teen shot back at Saunders. Scott also said he did not know Bailey had another firearm on him.

According to Harrison, the projectiles found in Saunders’ body, as well as the projectile found in his apartment both were consistent of a bullet from a Smith & Wesson .38.

In sentencing Scott, Yeatts also ordered he have no further contact with Bailey or any street gang members he knows.

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