Victims stunned over acquittal in 2012 Montgomery murder case

Pat Bozeman was injured in the shooting.
Pat Bozeman was injured in the shooting.
John Derwin Scroggins was fatally injured in the shooting.
John Derwin Scroggins was fatally injured in the shooting.
Ladarius Frazier
Ladarius Frazier
Jaquincy Croskey
Jaquincy Croskey

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Pat Bozeman is having a hard time dealing with a jury's decision to acquit the man accused of shooting him in the leg and foot and killing his friend, 59-year-old John Derwin Scroggins. The longtime friends were working on Bozeman's truck with another friend, Shawn Howell, at a storage facility on Crouson Street in Montgomery one night in October 2012 when two gunmen appeared.

"They had us at gunpoint as soon as they turned the corner. A friend of mine, Derwin Scroggins, he turned and went into the building and one of the guys followed him and shot him while he was in there and on the way out, he shot me as we were trying to leave," Bozeman told WSFA. "They said, 'Give it up!' when they turned the corner but we didn't have anything to give them."

According to Bozeman, one of the gunman was armed with a pistol and the other was armed with a shotgun. Derwin Scroggins was shot in the arm and face and then a third time in the back as he tried to run away. Pat Bozeman was shot twice as he tried to run away. He said the entire thing played out in seconds.

"I think about it all the time. It's kind of hard to come back down here. There's still blood on the wall inside from Derwin," Bozeman said.

Ladarius Frazier, 18, and Jaquincy Croskey were charged in the case with capital murder, attempted murder and robbery. Frazier was the accused shooter and Croskey was his alleged accomplice.

Pat Bozeman and Shawn Howell, who was not injured in the incident, identified Frazier and Croskey in separate police line-ups and weeks after the deadly shooting, the duo was arrested and charged in the case.

Frazier's trial started Monday in Montgomery County court and the jury delivered their verdict Wednesday morning, finding him not guilty on all counts and leaving the victims and witnesses in disbelief.

"I'm very angry because I don't think it's right because he killed a friend of mine and shot another friend of mine. I can't believe this actually happened," Howell said.

Howell and Bozeman testified about their ordeal during Frazier's trial. His alleged accomplice, Jaquincy Croskey, also took the stand and walked the jury through the fatal robbery attempt. The trial ended with Frazier's acquittal.

"I seen him with my own eyes shoot Derwin right there in front of that door and he shot me on the way out and ran off. I just feel like justice ain't being served. It should have been unanimously guilty, instead of not guilty," Bozeman said. "There were three eyewitnesses with the same story and one of them was the accomplice. I can live with my injuries but Derwin lost his life and something needs to be done about it."

Also stunned by the verdict Wednesday- the family of the victim, Derwin Scroggins, who felt the prosecution proved the case.

Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Scott Green handled the case and provided WSFA with the following statement: "Montgomery police did a great job with the case. I'm very disappointed and thought we presented a solid case but sometimes you can't give the jury everything they think they need. That's the system we have and it's the best system in the world but sometimes the system fails to bring justice to the victims."

Green said Frazier cannot be tried again in the case.

Meanwhile, the defense, J. Carlton Taylor and Jennifer Holton, issued this statement: "We want to thank the jury on behalf of Mr. Frazier for the conscientious deliberations in this case. We feel the verdict was a fair and impartial verdict that represents why we have the best legal system in the world."

J. Carlton Taylor said there were several issues with the identification of the shooter.

"Unfortunately, the victims and the State failed to mention that Mr. Howell testified at trial that the other gunman, who was not Jaquincy Croskey, had his face covered when they approached the men.  That on the night of the incident, Mr. Howell identified another suspect who was later proven not to be involved and after seeing Frazier in the neighborhood, some 20+ days later Mr. Howell and Mr. Bozeman picked him out of a line up," Taylor told WSFA.

Taylor went on to say that Shawn Howell went to school with both Croskey and Frazier but stated on his 911 call and to police he did not know the suspects.

"The victims both also admitted that they were clearly in shock upon cross examination, Bozeman had admitted to investigators that he had blacked out and did not remember everything that had occurred," Taylor said.  "Lastly, Jaquincy Croskey was testifying under an agreement for a reduced sentence and admitted that he was lying.  He also had told numerous lies in previous statements which did not match his story at trial."

As for the codefendant, Jaquincy Croskey, his case is still pending in court.

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