Nearly 31/2 years since three people were gunned down at an Auburn club, the primary suspect charged in connection to the shooting is standing trial for capital murder.
Tarabien “Trent” Latrent Cobb, of Auburn, is charged with the "capital murder-two or more persons" of Roderick Laman Nelms, 25, and Jadarrion “Doug” Ladarkes Spinks, 43, who were murdered at Mr. D’s Lodge in April 2016 in Auburn.
Recco Raymoine Cobb, 43, of Auburn, also was killed during the incident. Recco Cobb and Trent Cobb were cousins and Trent is not charged in Recco's death.
Lee County Assistant District Attorney Garrett Saucer believes the shooting deaths of Nelms and Spinks was no accident, but that there was one clear outcome, he said Wednesday during opening arguments.
“This was nothing other than an execution of two people,” Saucer said, ”Based solely on the fact Trent Cobb felt disrespected.”
Cobb’s attorney, Davis Whittelsey, sees the incident a different way. He believes Cobb had no involvement and is innocent of the murders.
“There’s a difference between not guilty and innocent. All I can ask you for in this trial is to find Tarabien not guilt,” Whittelsey said during opening statements. “I could, I would ask you to find him innocent…. Not guilty means the state couldn’t prove it. Tarabien’s innocent.”
Saucer and Lee County Assistant District Attorney Cathey Berardi are prosecuting the case.
Cobb is represented by Whittelsey and Andrew Stanley.
During the early morning hours of April 23, 2016, a fight began at a party for Recco Cobb at Mr. D’s Lodge in Auburn.
While more than 200 people enjoyed a night of “drinking, dancing, and having fun,” Spinks and Recco Cobb got involved in an argument late in the evening inside Mr. D’s Lodge, Saucer said.
“There was pushing, shoving,” Saucer explained.
Security was present at the party that evening and tried to break up the fight and get Spinks and Recco Cobb outside of the lodge. However, at the same time, people started to leave the party because the lodge was beginning to close, Saucer said.
Once outside, everything changed.
“Somebody produced a gun and someone started shooting,” Saucer told the jury.
Saucer believes the person who began shooting was Trent Cobb.
“Trent Cobb was outside. Trent Cobb walked up, shot Duke Nelms feet away from him,” Saucer told the jury. “Then (Trent Cobb) turned his attention over to Duke Spinks who were out there fighting with his cousin.”
Saucer added that he is unsure who started the fight inside the lodge, whether it was Spinks or Recco Cobb.
He also noted Nelms was trying to break up the fight.
Defense attorney Whittelsey, however, said there is no evidence to support Trent Cobb as the shooter, including that there is no gun connected to Trent Cobb.
“There is no finger print on these… 700 pieces of evidence that belonged to Trent Cobb,” he said. “There is no blood on any firearm, on any projectile, any shell casing, on the ground, on any car, on his clothing, on his shoes, on his person from this event.”
Omar Marshall remembers the night gunshots rang out at Mr. D’s Lodge.
The moment gunshots pierced the night sky, Marshall got on the ground. He thought someone was trying to rob them for the money they made during the party, Marshall testified.
Marshall escaped the lodge through a side door in the kitchen.
Marshall, the first witness to take the stand Wednesday, was a part of the group of people involved in planning the party at Mr. D’s Lodge, according to testimony.
Marshall used to work with Trent Cobb at the time of the incident, he testified.
He added that he did not see Trent Cobb with a gun during the night of the incident, according to testimony.
Auburn police responded to a call of shots fired at Mr. D’s Lodge in the 1200 block of Lee Road 83 at about 2 a.m. on April 23, 2016.
When officer arrived, gunfire was still being exchanged by multiple people, according to reports.
Once police secured the scene, they found Nelms, Spinks and Recco Cobb deceased.
A fourth victim with a non-life threatening gunshot wound was taken to East Alabama Medical Center for treatment prior to the officers’ arrival.
Trent Cobb was later arrested at a residence in Auburn with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.
In January 2018, the charges against Trent Cobb were dismissed due to a motion filed by his attorney.
The charges were dismissed because his case was not presented in multiple grand jury sessions held since the preliminary hearing in August 2016 and because “ballistics received directly contradicts the testimony of the sole witness,” according to court records.
The motion also stated that the ballistics were not available at the August 2016 preliminary hearing for reference, according to previous reports.
Trent Cobb’s charges were dismissed on Jan. 30, 2018, in regard to the motion.
However, Cobb was indicted by a Lee County grand jury and was arrested on a Lee County Grand Jury indictment for one count of "capital murder – two or more persons," in October 2018.
Staff writer Jasmyne Ray contributed to this report.