By Jay Meisel
AVON PARK — The man who witnesses said received a gun moments before Dwayne Council Jr. was shot last year was charged Friday with pulling the trigger.
Jovan Douryan Moses, 19, 448 W. Perry St., was arrested at 4:30 p.m. after a judge signed an arrest warrant. Spokeswoman Nell Hays said Highlands County Sheriff’s office investigators requested a warrant through Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin.
“Oh my God!” Danielle Williams brought both hands to her face Saturday morning after hearing the news. “We were close, close friends. And my mother is friends with his father, Dwayne Council Sr. Avon Park never finds who killed anyone, so that’s by the grace of God. Dwayne never bothered anyone.”
Nine years older, Williams had known the younger Council since he was a baby. They attended Faith Temple together for years.
Moses was charged with murder without premeditation. Because Moses is a convicted felon on probation, he was also charged with possession of a weapon.
Moses had been in jail since Dec. 13 because detectives determined he had tried to burn his bloody clothing. He was charged then with tampering with evidence. He continues to be held without bond in Highlands County Jail.
A witness heard gunshots and a passerby found Council, 21, lying injured at 4:30 a.m. Nov. 23 in the 200 block of East State Street in Avon Park. Council was later pronounced dead at Florida Hospital.
Sheriff Susan Benton praised the detectives and their four month-investigation.
“I’m sure it is a day of mixed emotions for the Council family,” she said. “It saddens all of us. It is so difficult for me to understand how kids who have known each other for so many years can do things like this to each other. Our detectives have put forth tremendous effort to bring the senseless death of Dwayne Council to justice; they have worked with forensic examiners evaluating the various pieces of evidence to reach the point of making these charges.”
Witnesses stated in a warrant that they saw Moses with Council minutes before murder and that Council gave Moses a pistol shortly before gunshots were heard. Two witnesses also said they saw Moses burn some of his clothes after the shooting.
Council was the father of a young girl, the son of a football and track coach, and an outstanding linebacker.
At his funeral, where a crowd numbering up 1,000 gathered, classmates said Council was one of the most popular students at Avon Park High School. He and Johnequa Perry were selected as 2009’s homecoming king and queen. In 2010, he signed a scholarship to play football at Evangel University, a private, liberal arts, Assemblies of God college in Springfield, Mo, where he was rostered as a defensive back.
“This guy just had a million-dollar smile,” said Andy Bonjokian, Council’s coach for four years at Avon Park High School. “He was the kind of person everyone would want to be around. He was a great leader on the field, but he was an even greater teammate.”
“He was the class clown,” said Jelisa Matthews, who pinned a red paper “10” on her classmates at Council’s funeral, representing their Class of 2010, which had also voted Council “Most Athletic.”
Chief Deputy Mark Schrader said on April 13 that the investigation was not stalled. “Our detectives are actively investigating the case. We’ve sent evidence to the lab, and they feel confident they will make an arrest.”
The investigation is continuing, the sheriff’s office said. For more information or to offer new information, call Det. Hank Smith or the Criminal Investigations Unit at (863) 402-7382 or 402-7250. Informants who want to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward can call Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-TIPS(8477), or on the Internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.
Reporter Gary Pinnell contributed to this story