UPDATE: Suspect denies role in fatal drug robbery | Crime and courts

WATERLOO — A Waterloo man charged with orchestrating a synthetic marijuana scam that turned into a fatal shooting has denied playing a role in a robbery.

Instead, Daijon Jarell Stokes, 28, told jurors on Thursday he was going to buy milk for his children when he saw his cousin, Cedrick Ordell Smith, 25, in the parking lot of Kwik Stop and was so mad at him that he wanted to beat him.

Prosecutors allege Stokes enlisted 20-year-old Dayton Sanders and 17-year-old Alvonni Stone to restrain Smith when he arrived at the store at West Ninth and Washington Street/US Highway 218 for what was believed to be a K2 deal on August 24. Authorities said Smith pulled out a gun and began firing when he was attacked, and Stone began to return fire.

Sanders crossed Route 218 and fell in the median and died, after being hit by a single bullet, and all survivors took off before police arrived, according to reports.

Evidence photo of a Ruger .45 caliber handgun found next to the body of Dayton Sanders following a drug robbery on August 24, 2021 at West Ninth and Washington streets.

Photo added

On Thursday, Stokes spoke in his own defense, telling jurors he had an ongoing dispute with Smith that nearly erupted at a candlelight vigil weeks earlier.

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He said that on the night of August 23, Stone, Sanders and Sanders’ girlfriend spent the night with him at his West Fourth Street property where he ran a t-shirt press and music studio. He said the next morning they headed to the Kwik Star — across from the Kwik Stop of the same name — so he could buy milk for his children and buy food for Stone and Sanders.

Sanders was driving his girlfriend’s blue Dodge Journey, and on the way he received a phone call, and they pulled up next to a red Ford Fusion at the Kwik Stop, according to Stokes’ testimony.

Stokes said he recognized Smith at the wheel and ran towards him and started punching.

Stokes told jurors there was no flight plan and he did not know the people he was with had guns.

Video evidence from the store’s security camera captured the attack, with Stone opening the Fusion’s passenger door as Stokes punched Smith on the driver’s side.

The Fusion began to move forward and Sanders ran towards the vehicle, which then came to a brief stop when Smith, in the driver’s seat, began firing. The video shows Sanders running away as the Fusion starts up. Stokes and Stone abandoned the Dodge at the edge of the parking lot in favor of fleeing on foot.

Waterloo Police Department investigator Brice Lippert said authorities concluded Smith fired first, fending off three shots. One of Smith’s shots hit Sanders.

Stone fired a single shot, which apparently ricocheted off the Fusion’s hood, he said.

Officers responding to the scene said Sanders suffered a single gunshot wound through and through. Investigators said they never recovered the bullet that killed him.

Waterloo police testified that they found a .45 caliber Ruger pistol next to Sanders’ body in the median of the freeway. The blood spattered weapon had an empty chamber and an empty magazine inside. Sanders also carried a holster containing a loaded 9mm magazine for an SCCY pistol but not the pistol.

Officers did not find any spent .45 caliber casings at the scene, but they did locate three 9mm casings – one near what were once the store’s gas pumps and two others next to the Dodge Journey. Two 9mm casings had been fired from the same gun, the Sgt. Kerry Devine testified.

Officer Andrew Tindall told jurors he later found the Fusion parked behind apartments at 1153 Langley Road. There was a socket near the windshield wipers and a dent in the hood from a bullet ricochet, the officer said.

Meanwhile, at the convenience store, the Journey delivered an empty plastic box for a Glock pistol, but not the pistol. There was also an inhaler and an LG cell phone.

Final arguments in the case are scheduled for Friday.

About Joshua M. Osborne

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