October 28, 2020

Rap music recordings may prove suspect jailed for four years innocent of murder charges

A Mississippi prosecutor said he’s reexamining a capital murder case after new evidence shows the man charged might not have been at the scene when a gas station attendant was shot and mortally wounded in 2015.

District Attorney Scott Colom said he will ask a judge to release 28-year-old Jonathan Shumaker on bond, with an ankle monitor, while Colom’s office hires a private investigator to gather more information.

The Commercial Dispatch reported that Colom also will request that three other suspects be released on bond.

Shumaker has been jailed since March 2015, days after 28-year-old Kristopher Haywood died. Haywood was shot while working at a gas station in Macon, and he died two days later at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Colom said Wednesday that evidence in the case includes cellphone recordings of Shumaker rapping with other people in another town, Shuqualak, five minutes after the 911 call reporting Haywood had been shot. Shuqualak is 13 miles from Macon.

Kristopher Haywood’s mother, Carol Haywood, told the newspaper that her family is extremely upset about the new information.

“It’s been a long four and a half years,” she said. “I frankly don’t understand why there can’t be some solid proof to who murdered my son.”

Shumaker had been scheduled for trial next week, but that is being postponed. His attorney, Shane Tompkins of Columbus, had filed papers saying his client has not received a speedy trial. Tompkins also gave prosecutors the new information about Shumaker being in another town when Kristopher Haywood was shot.

Tompkins declined to comment to The Dispatch.

In the days after Kristopher Haywood’s shooting, three other suspects were arrested. Two of the three told investigators they had been at the gas station with Shumaker, though Colom said Wednesday that some details in their stories were inconsistent.

Investigators also found a shotgun at Shumaker’s home, but it turned out to not match shell casings recovered at the gas station.

Evidence recovered at Shumaker’s home also did not have any of Haywood’s DNA, and Shumaker’s DNA was not found at the gas station, Colom said.

The biggest piece of evidence was Tompkins’ discovery of the voice recordings. Experts at the state Crime Lab discovered the time stamps of the recordings were 10:42 p.m., 10:45 p.m., 10:48 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Colom later sent the phone to the attorney general’s office, where investigators found the same results.

The 911 call had been made a 10:37 p.m.

In the recording, Shumaker, the three other suspects and another man named are all rapping and making music.

“These audios were concerning to me because of the timing,” Colom said.