The trial of a man accused of fatally shooting another Springfield man began Monday.
Tacota A. Fields, 24, faces several charges, including murder, tampering with evidence, felonious assault and other gun charges, according to court records.
Evidence links Fields to the shooting death of 21-year-old Schuyler Mollett on Aug. 8, 2013, and to other shootings in Springfield, Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson said in his opening argument to the jury.
Mollett was discovered in an alleyway near the intersection of North Limestone Street and Stanton Avenue. Springfield police have described his death as an “execution,” court records said. He was found shot six times.
Fields was arrested in December 2015, more than two years after Mollett’s death. The case went cold after police failed to make any arrests, Wilson said in court. But Fields was arrested after his ex-girlfriend came forward, alleging to police that she was with him the night Mollett was killed, Wilson said, and that Fields was responsible.
“Apply reason and common sense,” Wilson told the jury, “and you’re going to find this defendant guilty.”
Wilson alleged Fields was set off after he was embarrassed in a fight. Mollett was in a group called the “Ratchet Clique,” he said, and Fields and his friends had been feuding with them. Fields’ defense attorney, Mark Wieczorek, said the clique was actually a gang.
Fields allegedly wanted revenge for a fight where he was knocked unconscious, Wilson said, and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
“That was a blow that his pride just couldn’t take,” he said in court.
Fields also faces charges in connection with separate shootings that left bullets lodged in a house and a church, according to court records. Wilson said the bullets matched those that killed Mollett.
But Wieczorek argued to the jury that no one saw Fields pull the trigger.
“We don’t have the gun either,” Wieczorek said. “Yeah, all the bullets match up but we don’t have the gun.”
He also argued that Fields’ ex-girlfriend isn’t a credible witness because she has said that she hates him and wants him to, “rot in hell.”
“It comes down to the credibility of one, maybe two witnesses,” he said.
Jurors visited Monday five locations related to the case, including the house on Stanton Avenue investigators said Mollett was staying in, as well as the spot his body was found.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has reported on the shooting death of Schuyler Mollett since he was killed in 2013, including stories about the search for a suspect and an arrest in the case late last year.