Murder suspect facing trial 2 years after victim names him in dying words

Murder suspect facing trial 2 years after victim names him in dying words

By Janell Williams


It was 3:47 p.m. on a Wednesday in February of 2021 when Deputy Danielle Danforth responded to an accident on Moye Road.

Inside a wrecked white BMW, she found Joseph Dukes clinging to life after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. Danforth’s body camera captured Dukes’ final moments as he told her and other first responders who had shot him.

Dukes responded, “Deante Caruthers.” 

Almost two years later, Caruthers faces a trial at the end of this month to determine if he will enter February as a free man. 

This is one of many Columbus murder cases from 2021 that are going to trial now that the backlog caused by the COVID-19 court lockdowns of 2020.

As Caruthers prepares for trial, many factors can affect his freedom and justice for Dukes. The confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states anyone accused of a crime “has the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him,” meaning that a judge must determine whether the dying man’s words are admissible in the suspect’s trial.

However, there is an exception to the clause: “A statement made by a declarant while believing that his or her death was imminent, concerning the cause or circumstances of what the declarant believed to be impending death.”

As the trial nears, it reopens wounds for many Muscogee County residents who were affected by the homicide spike Columbus faced in 2021, a total of 70 murders.

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