Man who killed veteran in ambush pleads guilty

A “hitman” who killed a disabled veteran in an ambush in Stone Mountain was sentenced to 40 years in prison with 30 years to serve after he pled guilty to the crime.

Jose Marquez-Colon pled to voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in the shooting death of Phillip Lamar Davis, who served in the Gulf War.  

Colon’s case, which was assigned to the district attorney’s newly created Major Case Unit, was expected to go to trial in April, but Colon decided to plead guilty to the crime.

Police found tactical gear at the home of Colon. According to police reports, men in black military clothing and masks attacked and killed Davis in his Stone Mountain home at 6 a.m. Sept. 1, 2017. The attack was caught on surveillance camera.

Prosecutors believe Davis was attacked for drug money. Investigators found a “large amount” of fentanyl at his home.

Former gang prosecutor Lance Cross, who heads the Major Case Unit, said the guilty plea was a big win for the unit.   

“You’re always a little surprised when a defendant takes a lengthy sentence, such as 30 years to serve, instead of going to trial, but we had a lot of evidence against [Colon],” Cross said. “We’re pretty proud of this one. This is exactly what this unit was created for.”

According to district attorney officials, the Major Case Unit handles “some of the most complex” crimes in the county. The unit also gathers evidence to make a case trial ready. In the case of Colon, prosecutors searched his phone records and identified two other defendants involved in the crime—both defendants plead guilty.

“There are a number of homicides in DeKalb and the police do a great job, but sometimes they have a lot of work. We try to supplement what the police do. We’re like our own homicide unit,” Cross said. “District Attorney Sherry Boston did a great job putting this team together. This unit is a game changer in DeKalb. We can make the cases so much stronger than we used to.”

There is still one suspect on the run in the Colon case, Cross said. Investigators were able to track another shooting suspect to an airport in Miami and believe he is hiding in the Dominican Republic. Cross said the suspect has been indicted.

“One of the things I want us to do is to become the premier major case unit in the nation,” Cross said. “We’re doing things other units aren’t doing…the fact that we are on the street and help out the police as much as we do, I hope in next five years we can teach other major case units to do what we do.”

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