Thomas trial date rescheduled

·2 min read

Sep. 22—ELKHART — A man accused in a shooting death Feb. 5 received a continuance of his trial in Elkhart County Circuit Court Thursday.

Darius Thomas, 26, Middlebury, is charged in the murder of Shamar Barnes in Elkhart. After reviewing security video as part of the investigation, detectives believed Thomas had parked a car at a Marathon gas station, 1226 S. Main St., while a backseat passenger got out and went into the store, according to details in the probable cause affidavit in the case.

The driver, allegedly Thomas, is seen starting to get out of the car, but then ducks back in as Barnes crosses the gas station's parking lot. The driver, according to the footage, peeked out of the car, pointed a gun, and fired three shots.

Barnes is then seen clutching his chest before running from the scene, and the car also flees with the backseat passenger still in the store, the affidavit reads. Police responded to the call around 4:25 p.m., finding Barnes with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the hospital just before 5 p.m.

Thomas had been out of prison for about nine months after serving time in a robbery case out of Goshen when the incident occurred. Thomas pleaded guilty to an armed robbery that occurred on North Main Street in May 2012, and in November 2012 sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Another teen was also sentenced for his role in that robbery. Thomas was 17 at the time. Released on probation in 2016, Thomas returned to prison after violating probation and after serving the remainder of his sentence, was released in May 2020.

Investigators tracked the car from the surveillance video and found it parked behind a house in South Bend. According to the affidavit, the owner of the vehicles told investigators that Thomas had ridden with him in the car, and borrowed the car about an hour and a half before the shooting occurred. According to the owner's statement in the affidavit, Thomas called him later and told him where the car was parked and that the keys were in a nearby mailbox. Thomas was also identified in images from the surveillance video, bullet casings were found in the car, and keys were found in the identified mailbox, the affidavit reads.

During Thursday's court appearance, Thomas' attorney Christopher Crawford moved for a continuance of the trial, which was scheduled for Oct. 17. Judge Michael Christofeno obliged, due in part to the fact that another trial is scheduled for the same day. As a result, Thomas' jury trial was rescheduled for April 3, with a status conference March 9.