James Earl Wells is believed to be the man who shot and killed Reese Bishop around midnight on Jan. 11.
That’s according to testimony given Tuesday during the preliminary hearing for Lamont Malone, the other suspect in the murder. Malone has been charged with criminal homicide and aggravated burglary and had his case bound over to the grand jury following Tuesday’s hearing. He remains an inmate at Coffee County Jail.
It was a preliminary hearing in which TBI agent Derrin Shockey was the lone witness to take the stand and he provided new details about what law enforcement officials believe took place the night Bishop was killed in his home on Lind Street.
Shockey testified that Malone admitted during taped interviews to visiting the home earlier that same day, around 5:30 p.m., to buy cocaine. He then returned later with Wells dressed in all black with black gloves and black ski masks.
“Mr. Malone confirmed he transported (an individual) to that residence earlier in the day for the purpose of buying drugs,” Shockey testified, saying he later picked up Wells from his home. “He suggested he owed Mr. Wells and this was some way to pay him back,” Shockey continued. "He said Mr. Wells went through the door and shot the homeowner and they were all in black. He said Mr. Wells told him he had dropped a magazine from his gun and there was a magazine found at the scene."
Shockey continued, "He said he picked up Mr. Wells and dropped him off at his home. They had gone there for the purpose of robbing whoever was in that house of drugs, money, or both.”
Shockey testified that through his conversations, Malone said he went into the home armed with a pipe which was later recovered away from the scene. He said Wells left with the gun and that a gun had not been recovered by law enforcement.
Malone’s attorney, Public Defender John Partin, asked agent Shockey if, to his knowledge, any law enforcement official had questioned James Wells about this version of events. Shockey said he doesn’t believe Wells has been questioned.
Wells has not been charged in connection with Mr. Bishop's murder.
When asked about the people who were at the Lind Street home at the time of the murder, Shockey said there were four people there when two masked intruders barged in.
Shockey testified Donta Weir was there and he wrestled with the gunman and may have contributed to the magazine falling out of the weapon. He said Amy Bain picked up the magazine and that Weir rushed over, grabbed it, and threw it outside. It was recovered from the backyard, Shockey said. Bain is also the person who called 911.
“The only ID any of them could give was they were black males,” said Shockey. “They were both stocky men and one was taller than the other. That’s all they could say.”
Shockey indicated the only way the witnessed knew the two men were black is because they could see small portions of their skin through parts the ski masks didn’t fully cover. All other parts of their bodies were obscured by black clothing, they said.
The men were tied to the scene by their very unique getaway vehicle, a purple-colored Chevy Malibu V-Max. That vehicle was traced back to Celeste Jones, who told an investigator she had let Malone borrow the car. Malone was seen on video surveillance footage with the car in front of a local laundromat, Shockey said.