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Son of slaying victim testifies he didn't want dad to 'seem like a bad person'
Father killed during drug deal turned robbery
08152018 STUDIVANT 1.jpg
Marquis Lejon Studivant, left, and counsel Lee Parks talk Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Hall County Superior Court during Studivant's murder trial. Studivant is charged with felony murder in the April 4 shooting of Dennis Gayton, 47, on Carlton Street in Gainesville.

Tyler Gayton screamed and told his father, Dennis, to slam on the gas and get out of there when a man pulled out a gun on Carlton Street, according to testimony Tuesday in Superior Court.

Marquis Lejon Studivant is on trial in Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller’s court for charges of felony murder and conspiracy to sell a schedule I controlled substance, a synthetic cannabinoid. 

The charges stem from the April 4, 2017, fatal shooting of Dennis Gayton, 47.

Assistant District Attorney Tauri Thomas kicked off opening statements Tuesday, Aug. 14, addressing the potential credibility issues with her witnesses.

According to his testimony, Tyler Gayton originally told authorities they were driving through the area and were stopped. He didn’t, however, tell police his father went to Athens Street to buy drugs, according to Tyler Gayton’s testimony.

Gainesville Police said Dennis Gayton was with his son when two male suspects attempted to rob the father.

“I didn’t want to make my dad seem like a bad person at the time,” Tyler Gayton said.

Another potential witness would be Tadrick Terrian Osborne, 38, Studivant’s co-defendant in the indictment, who took a plea deal in May to an amended charge of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to sell a Schedule I substance.

In separate charges, Studivant was accused of attempted armed robbery, aggravated assault and first-degree child cruelty.

In an opening statement lasting less than five minutes, defense attorney Lee Parks implored the jurors to keep an open mind and said there was “not going to be one piece of physical evidence … (or) forensic evidence” leading them to Studivant.

“Quite frankly, when this is all said and done, you’re really not going to have any credible, believable evidence that Marquis was involved,” Parks said.

Parks and his client previously filed a notice of an alibi saying Studivant was at home with his child at the time of the incident.

Tyler Gayton took the stand first Tuesday morning and described the family’s plan to go camping, with a tent and fishing poles ready to go.

When they got to the Athens Street area, Dennis Gayton yelled out the window and indicated that he was looking to buy drugs. He pulled in to a nearby barber shop and waited for the men to approach.

Dennis Gayton pulled out some money, Tyler Gayton said.

“The guy said, ‘Give me all of that.’ And (Dennis Gayton) refused, stuck the money back in his pocket and the guy pulled a gun. My dad grabbed the gun,” Tyler Gayton said.

Gayton’s son said he fought with the man and tried to get the gun away, and Dennis Gayton was hit with a bullet.

Tyler Gayton said multiple shots were fired, with another round going through the passenger-side window.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Elaina Coffee testified next, saying only one shell casing and a live round were discovered at the scene.

Two $20 bills were found outside of the truck’s driver’s side, Coffee said.

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