Shooting

Siblings want justice; judge denies bond for accused killer

Lisa Sharpe got a call from her sister about half past midnight last Thursday.

“She said she was scared … I asked if she wanted me to come there, but she said she was OK,” Sharpe recalled.

A little more than an hour later, her 39-year-old sister Tasha Fuentes Sharpe was shot in the neck, and her 22-year-old son Dalton White suffered a deadly shot to the chest during a domestic dispute at their residence on Toombs Road in the Hoy Community. White was trying to protect his mother when he was shot, witnesses said. That didn’t surprise those who knew him.

“He was there any time she called, and he always looked out for his younger brothers and sisters, too,” said Lisa Sharpe, who lives in Petal.

Melendez walks

Investigator J.D. Carter looks as shooting suspect Jose Melendez-Davila walks into Jones County Justice Court for his initial appearance. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

 

Justice Court Judge Billie Graham and Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette are trying to look out for the community now. Graham denied bond for the accused shooter, 33-year-old Jose Melendez-Davila, after Bisnette made that request at the suspect’s initial appearance in court after being extradited from Morgan City, La., where he was captured early Friday morning. Melendez-Davila is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault.

“The words ‘very sad’ does not begin to describe this case,” Graham said. “Mr. Bisnette is correct with his assessment of the law. I have to look at if he’s a danger to the community and the severe gravity of the crimes, plus he already fled after the crime … There will be no bond.”

The victims’ family members were relieved to hear that, a day after White was buried while his mother was still fighting for her life in the intensive care unit at an undisclosed hospital. 

“She can’t feel from her waist down and she’s not off her ventilator,” Lisa Sharpe said, adding that doctors had yet to make a prognosis.

Their brother Eric Sharpe of Hattiesburg was upset that someone he considers an accessory to the shooting was in the courtroom and allowed to walk out.

“He gave (Melendez-Davila) the gun,” he said pointing at Poncho Gonzales, for whom the suspect worked as a mechanic for about four months, according to a statement the suspect made before the judge through a translator during the proceeding. “(Witnesses) said he got the gun from Poncho that day.”

That allegation has not been substantiated by law enforcement officials.

Eric Sharpe, who said he has a background in law enforcement, characterized the relationship between his sister and Melendez-Davila as “up and down.” Last Wednesday and Thursday was one of those “down” times at the home they shared and where White sometimes stayed.

“He was so controlling,” Lisa Sharpe said of Melendez-Davila. “If she had nice clothes, he would cut them up. He didn’t want her to wear makeup, so he’d hide it from her …”

Tasha Sharpe apparently tried to break off the relationship with him on Wednesday, according to witness statements.

“She asked Pito to leave,” Lisa Sharpe said, using Melendez-Davila’s nickname.

That was around 9 p.m., she said, adding that he returned with the gun a few hours later and shot her sister and her nephew. After deputies were dispatched to the scene, “witnesses said Melendez-Davila, her boyfriend, shot both victims during a verbal argument,” Graham said, reading from the affidavit of JCSD Investigator J.D. Carter.

Carter testified that Melendez-Davila has “a few prior domestics” on his record, but no felony convictions.

Tasha Sharpe has at least one recent prior tragedy in her past. Her previous husband Jairon Fuentes was shot multiple times and killed in front of two of his daughters almost two years ago to the day at a trailer park off Holly Drive, just north of Laurel. Gregory O’Neil Jones was charged with murder and released on $50,000 bond while awaiting trial. 

Dozens of people took to the Leader-Call’s Facebook page to defend Jones. The victim’s wife, posting as Tasha Fuentes, called them out. She wrote that Jones “killed him in cold blood” after her husband “begged for his life.” She added that Jones would “get what he deserves because us as a family wont stop until Jairon get Justice!!!!”

Her family feels that way about this most recent case, too. Eric Sharpe referred to a statement of forgiveness that was posted on Facebook on behalf of White’s father and printed in Tuesday’s edition of the Leader-Call.

“We don’t forgive,” Eric Sharpe said, and his sister agreed.

“She lived for her kids,” Lisa Sharpe added. “She bent over backwards to take care of them.”

Wearing hot pink coveralls labeled with “Jones County High Risk Inmate” and speaking through an interpreter, the suspect said he left Puerto Rico in 2010 and lived in Louisiana with family members until coming to Laurel in February with Tasha Sharpe, who owned the mobile home on Toombs Road.

On the morning of the shooting, Melendez-Davila reportedly fled in a 1996 Toyota Tercel with a Louisiana license plate. Police found the car a few hours later at Community Bank on 16th Avenue in Laurel. Approximately 20 law enforcement officials from Morgan City Police Department, St. Mary’s Parish and the U.S. Marshal’s Service found him at a residence just after 4 a.m. Friday.

Speaking through his translator, Melendez-Davila said, “I went to see my daddy. I gave myself to the police.”

Graham said, “It doesn’t sound that way to me.”

Sharpe’s siblings said they want Melendez-Davila to go to trial as soon as possible.

“We just pray that justice gets served,” Lisa Sharpe said. “Justice for Dalton and Tasha.”

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