A judge set bail at $750,000 Tuesday for the man accused of killing 7-year-old Kamari Munerlyn last summer.
Devon Fowler, 28, is charged with felony conspiracy and murder in the death of Kamari, who was shot in his upper left chest June 4 after someone fired into a Honda Pilot SUV he was riding in after he swam at a local pool.
Kamari, a first-grader at Eastway Elementary School, loved swimming and playing with Hot Wheels cars, according to his relatives. He was pronounced dead that day after he was taken to a local hospital.
Fowler was arrested three days later and has remained in jail without bail..
During the hearing Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Kelley Gauger laid out evidence that suggested Kamari died while Fowler was seeking retribution for being shot at a few weeks earlier.
Gauger said Kamari, his mother Felicia Parker, her boyfriend, three other adults and four other kids had piled into the SUV June 4 after swimming at the Chapel Tower apartment complex pool on Morreene Road.
The children, including Kamari, were in the very back seat.
While on the Durham Freeway, passengers noticed a car following them.
Parker recognized the vehicle as belonging to Fowler.
“It is easily recognizable. It has two gunshot holes in the front hood of the car,” said Gauger, who asked Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson to set bail at $2 million.
The driver of the Honda Pilot pulled off the freeway and drove north on Hillandale Road. When the SUV reached the intersection of Hillandale Road and Peppertree Street, the other car pulled up to the left, in the opposite lane of traffic.
“There were several shots fired,” Gauger said. “One went into the back passenger area, which appears to be the one that hit Kamari.”
Other holes were found in the back left fender and the back tire, Gauger said.
The Honda Pilot stopped in the parking lot of the Tokyo Express restaurant on Guess Road. Police responded to the shooting call at 4:59 p.m., and an officer performed CPR on the 7-year-old until an ambulance arrived.
Parker and the driver of the Honda SUV said there were multiple people in the car, but Parker said she recognized Fowler driving his dark gray Nissan.
Police found Fowler at the Liberty Street public-housing community, and he gave a statement that he didn’t know anything about the shooting, Gauger said. He said then he had used his vehicle to get tobacco products, and no one else had driven his car. Fowler was released that night.
When officers brought him in two days later, police had discovered surveillance footage from a business on Hillandale Road that showed what appears to be the Honda Pilot followed closely by a dark Nissan, Gauger said.
An analysis of Fowler’s cell phone also appeared to show it was at Chapel Tower pool when Kamari was there, along with areas in which the Honda Pilot was being followed, Gauger said.
Officers told Fowler that video and cell phone evidence linked his car to the shooting, Gauger said, and he changed his story.
Fowler told officers he had taken a shower and perhaps “his right hand man” had taken his car and phone, Gauger said, and “by the time he got out of the shower that person was putting his keys and presumably his phone back in his house.”
Parker’s boyfriend may have been the target, Gauger said. It’s clear that many people in the community, including Fowler, believed that Parker’s boyfriend had shot at Fowler in the weeks before Kamari was shot, she said.
Fowler’s attorney, Emilia Beskind, said the surveillance footage isn’t very clear.
“I would say that there is a dark-color sedan that can be seen,” Beskind said. “I do not think that it’s clear that you can tell the car model or anything specific.”
Beskind said the reason Fowler’s car was so well known is “because 911 calls and police reports from three months earlier indicate that people making those descriptions were under investigation for being the people who put the holes in the car,” she said.
Beskind asked Hudson to lower to the bond to $200,000 to allow Fowler to get out and fight the charges and help support his wife and his three children, including his youngest daughter who has developmental delays.
Fowler’s first conviction was in 2007, when he was 18, for misdemeanor breaking or entering and misdemeanor larceny.
In 2015, Fowler was convicted of felony possession of stolen goods and felony destroying evidence.
A judge gave Fowler a suspended sentence, but that was revoked in 2016, and he went to prison.