Mobile gas station shooting going to grand jury, but detective testifies victim was ‘uncooperative’

A judge Monday found prosecutors have enough evidence or a grand jury consider charges against a man accused of shooting up a gas station.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 3:37 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A judge Monday found prosecutors have enough evidence or a grand jury consider charges against a man accused of shooting up a gas station, but the preliminary hearing offered hints at possible complications in prosecuting the case.

Mobile County District Judge Spiro Cheriogotis ruled that prosecutors had met their burden for the grand jury to consider charges of first-degree assault and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle.

The incident occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Circle K on North University Boulevard.

John Scroggins II, a Mobile police detective, testified that witnesses saw Zaiquis Jamel Hughes get out of a Honda Civic and start shooting in the direction of Jerome Trenier IV, who was standing near a gas pump. Scroggins testified that Trenier suffered multiple gunshot wounds and drove himself to Providence Hospital.

But Scroggins acknowledged under cross-examination from defense attorney James Byrd that no witnesses have come forward to say they saw him actually shoot the victim.

“I submit, judge, there’s no probable cause that Mr. Hughes shot a person or a vehicle. … May have is not probable cause,” he said.

Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Maggie Browning argued there is ample evidence for the case to go to a grand jury. She pointed to the 18-year-old Mobile man’s conduct in police custody.

“He changed his story several times,” she said.

Police did not get much help from the victim. Scroggins testified Trenier was “equally uncooperative.” Byrd said that could make it harder for the prosecution.

“I would imagine, but who knows?” he told FOX10 News. “He’s apparently got plenty of time to change his mind. We’ll see what happens.”

There is physical evidence tying Hughes to the scene. Scroggins testified that three shell casings matched a 9mm Glock “Frankenstein” gun found during a search of Hughes’ car.

Scroggins also testified that two occupied vehicles, a 2024 Chevrolet Trax and a 2017 BMW, sustained gunshot damage.

The detective testified that the defendant told investigators that he owned the Honda Civic but claimed he hadn’t been at the gas station all day much less during the shooting.

Scoggins testified that he then presented the defendant with an image of the vehicle from the gas station surveillance system.

“He then remembered that he had been there,” Scroggins testified.

The detective testified that Hughes changed his story several times and eventually stopped answering questions.

Said Byrd: “The change in his story was not in his best interest.”

The judge threw out charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia because the detective didn’t offer testimony about those charges.