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Witness tells court he saw gun later identified as weapon in homicide

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, at 7:41 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at 10:41 a.m.


Darius Smith was blunt when asked to tell a Sedgwick County jury about his life in Wichita.

“Fast lifestyle; very fast lifestyle,” he said. “Not very promising. Not very safe.”

“Were you dealing drugs?” prosecutor Trinity Muth asked.




“Where would you deal drugs?”

“North Broadway. South Broadway.

“Where would you deal drugs from?”

“Motel rooms,” Smith said.

“What was your drug of choice?”

“Black tar heroin.”

Smith said he was staying in Room 15 at the Surf Motel at 1643 S. Broadway when he came across a handgun that Wichita police say was used to murder Adji Tampone. Smith’s testimony came during the third day of the double-murder trial of Jerone Hakien Brown, 20, who is charged in the deaths of Tampone, 29, and Shawn Rhone, 42.

Brown and his brother, Shawn Malek Brown, 21, are charged with taking part in both homicides. Prosecutors said Tampone was killed because of a drug debt he owed to Shawn Brown. They said Rhone was shot to death in the 1700 block of Northeast Parkway after being lured to a vacant house to sell some marijuana.

Smith, who said he now lives in Mississippi, testified that he often sold drugs to Tampone, who was a Wichita State student. Smith said he and Shawn Brown were in Smith’s room at the Surf Motel on the night of Dec. 30, 2012, when he saw the gun that police say was later used to kill Tampone.

As they were playing a “Call of Duty” video game on an Xbox 360, Smith said, he decided to show Brown a .22-caliber revolver he owned. Brown then showed him a.25-caliber semi-automatic handgun and asked if he’d be interested in buying it.

“It was chrome, but it was unpolished chrome,” Smith testified. “It had a pearl handle on it that was really dirty. It looked like it had been buried…. I pulled the clip out and said, ‘This gun ain’t going to fire.’”

“Did you at that point try to see if it would fire?” Muth asked. “You’re just going to fire a gun in a hotel room?”

Smith said he tried to hide the sound from his neighbors before aiming the gun at some wood framing.

“I turned the sound up on the ‘Call of Duty’ game so they couldn’t tell,” he said. “I pointed it at the wall and tried to shoot it. It didn’t work at first. Then I cocked it, and shot it.”

This time the gun discharged, he said.

Police said lab tests showed that the bullet that was recovered from the wood framing in the motel room came from same gun that fired a bullet that was later removed from Tampone’s head.

The gun was never recovered.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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