HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - New details are coming to light in a fatal shooting in south Huntsville that claimed the life of a 19-year-old woman.
Two cousins are now charged with capital murder in this case and on the stand, Huntsville police revealed more about how both have been implicated in the murder.
Jaylon Draper went before Madison County District Court Judge Patrick Tuten on Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.
HPD investigators testified that Draper, his cousin, Joseph Earls, and two other men met with the victim, Samantha Coyner, and two people in her car to buy drugs at a gas station on South Parkway in April.
There was a car chase and then shots were fired, and Coyner was fatally struck in the head.
Those in the car with the two cousins say Earls shot several times and then handed the gun to Draper who fired several times.
The victim’s family has been in court every step of the way and here’s what prosecutors had to say after the hearing.
Investigators testified that Draper tested positive for gunshot residue. Two of the people with him told police that Draper said he thought he hit someone during the shooting and told them to “delete their phones” as they fled from the scene. Investigator David Mullins with HPD Major Crimes Unit, the lead investigator on case, testified during the hearing.
On April 10, 2019, he was notified that Coyner had been shot and was fighting for her life in the hospital.
Mullins went to the shooting scene at the intersection of Hillwood Drive and Chicamauga Trail. The victim’s car, a red Corolla, was on Hillwood. Bullet casings were found on Chicamauga Trail.
There was broken out glass on driver’s side window of the Corolla and blood inside the car. There were two passengers in the car with her, including her boyfriend Corey Swann and their friend, Joshua Lindley. Coyner has been driving.
In the other car involved in the incident, an Impala, there were four people: Jaylon Draper, Joseph Earls, Jarod Waldrop and Nick Lopez. The Impala was located by police officers at Papa Jack’s on Bob Wallace Avenue after the shooting and the four people inside the car were taken into custody.
All six people were interviewed.
Corey Swann said he and Coyner were contacted by Lopez to sell some marijuana at Circle K on South Parkway. They knew Lopez from high school. According to Mullins’ testimony, Lopez approached their car, they realized he had fake money and told him to “get out of here” and drove away. The Impala followed the Corolla, which the people in the Corolla weren’t expecting.
They all met up at the intersection. Corey Swann and Josh Lindley got out to approach the Impala when gunshots started and they ran back to Coyner’s car. They told police they saw the driver of the Impala, Earls, shooting at them.
As Lindley dove into the back seat, he “saw the glass break, saw Coyner get struck by a bullet and her body go limp,” Mullins said on the stand.
They stayed at the scene, the other car took off and was later found at Papa Jack’s. Mullins spoke to all four people in the Impala. He said Joseph Earls told him he didn’t remember what happened and asked for an attorney. Draper said he didn’t know anything Waldrop didn’t make any sense and Mullins believed that he could have been under the influence of something.
Lopez, according to Mullins, admitted to trying to buy drugs with fake money and said Earls and Draper fired the same gun several times. Lopez told Mullins that Draper said he “thought he hit someone.”
Draper, Mullins added, admitted to the drug deal eventually, but never told police who shot the gun. Joseph Earls was arrested first in the case and charged with capital murder. He was identified as the shooter by Lopez and passengers in car with Coyner. When police informed Earls that Coyner had passed away from her injuries, he gave a statement to investigators.
Mullins testified that Earls talked about the drug deal and said he fired the gun to scare the other people because he planned to steal their drugs.
Earls told investigators that he handed the gun to Draper, Draper said he hit someone and told them all to “delete their phones,” according to Mullins.
After Earls’ preliminary hearing, he was interviewed another time by investigators with his attorneys present. Mullins said Earl described how Draper shot behind him in a way that explained the physical evidence at the scene. Draper was also arrested and charged with capital murder.
Gunshot residue tests were done on everyone in Earls’ car. Draper tested positive, Earls tested negative because he was allowed to wash his hands by a young officer, Mullins told the court.
In a lineup, the victims did not pick out Draper as the shooter, but Earls and Lopez implicated Draper. According to Lopez, both Earls and Draper shot the gun 5-6 times.
The fake money and marijuana were recovered by police. The murder weapon was found at the home of Earls’ grandfather.
Swann and Lindley did not have guns, police testified.
Draper currently has no bond. His attorneys have asked for a second evidentiary hearing to discuss bond.
The judge found probable cause for the case to move forward. Now Draper and Earls’ cases will be presented to a grand jury. Draper’s attorneys had no comment coming out of court.
Assistant Madison County District Attorney Tim Douthit is the prosecutor on the case and spoke to the media on Wednesday, saying: “The case moves on. we're glad that we got what we think to be both of the shooters now and we're ready to move to the next step.”
When asked if Waldrop and Lopez could also face charges in the case, Douthit responded: “Obviously this is an unfolding and evolving situation. As far as the murder goes, I believe we’ve made all the arrests we’re going to make, absent new evidence. All the evidence we’ve received is the guys in the back seat were going to do a drug deal. They had no idea a murder was about to go down, or a robbery.”
He added that a decision has not been made by the state regarding the death penalty.
Coyner’s family was present in the courtroom for both the preliminary hearings for the suspects.
“They understand the system works slowly but it does work for the most part. None of this is going to bring their daughter back at the end of the day,” Douthit said.