CLEVELAND — Every day Deanna Redman Troutman walks into her living room, where on the floor are a pair of weathered work boots. The boots are a little muddy and the laces are untied as though someone had just taken them off.
The boots belonged to her oldest son, William, who was killed three months ago along with his cousin, Daniel Redman, at a house in Cleveland. The boots remain just the way he left them — one boot facing the other.
William, 20, with Daniel, 21, were passengers in a truck along with four others when they were shot and killed.
Investigators said the cousins went to a Mountain Road home with friends who were there to settle a dispute. Relatives have said it was over a poisoned dog.
Earlier this week, Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook said her office would not be filing charges against Roy Brooks, the man investigators say shot the cousins.
In a statement issued Monday, Cook said her office had reviewed physical evidence, numerous witness accounts and other facts. She said Brooks shot in self-defense.
Cook met with Deanna Troutman and other members of her family on Monday along with Daniel’s mother, Lisa Wise, father, Keith Redman, and stepmother, Laurie Redman.
The closing of the case offered little consolation for Troutman, who continues to grieve.
Until recently, Troutman was unable to clean her son’s messy room or wash and fold his clothes.
She finally packed up his clothes and placed them in a suitcase because her youngest son, Easton, 8, would not let her throw them away. He plans to keep them until he’s tall enough to wear them.
Troutman says she’ll never move William’s boots.
William and Daniel had been working on Daniel’s truck, which was an ongoing project for the cousins, but had taken a break. The two had decided to go swimming, but were asked by some friends to accompany them to settle an argument.
Troutman said the two were going to what they believed to be a mere fist fight. She said a friend of Daniel and William was in the midst of purchasing a dog from Darren Sharpe, who lived at a home beside Roy Brooks with his fiance Ashley Mowery, Brooks’ niece.
There was a disagreement and the dog was poisoned, she said, the friends believed by Sharpe. Investigators have not confirmed the reason for the dispute.
William was a passenger in the cab of the truck, which belonged to friend Christian “Seth” Oliphant, while Daniel sat in the bed of the truck with friend Joseph Tyler Fruia. Others in the truck included Joe “Dillon” Nichols and Donavan Sherrill, Cook’s statement said.
The statement said Oliphant had bought a shotgun earlier that day and took it with him to Mountain Road on July 20, the night of the shooting.
Oliphant called Sharpe and Mowery earlier in the day threatening to burn their house down, Cook said. There had been a baby shower for Mowery and there were still people at the home later that night.
Investigators said Oliphant displayed the shotgun. Brooks told investigators he saw a “flash” from the truck from “what he believed was someone shooting at him,” and he returned fire. The truck was backing out of his driveway when the shooting first occurred. The truck stopped in the roadway. Brooks said he saw another flash from the road and returned fire again.
He fired five times at the back of the truck as it was leaving. Four of the shots struck William and Daniel, Troutman said she was told by investigators.
William was believed to have died instantly, Troutman said, but Daniel was alive briefly. Daniel shielded Joseph Fruia, who was in the truck bed with him. Troutman was told Daniel said a quick prayer and then died.
Troutman was at a friend’s house when someone called to inform them of the shooting.
“He said, ‘William got shot, he’s dead,’ ” Troutman said of the call.
Troutman went to the hospital first, thinking William would be there. She then went to Hildebrand Road where investigators said Oliphant drove the truck to Joe “Dillon” Nichols’ father’s home. She waited for hours to finally learn her son was already dead.
Troutman still has unanswered questions for Cook, the district attorney, and Roy Brooks. She wonders why Cook didn’t “at least try” to prosecute the case. She also wonders why Brooks didn’t let the truck leave, without firing that second round of shots.
Troutman doubts Brooks’ accounts of that night as well as that of the witnesses who were at the party and those in the truck.
“I don’t believe any witnesses were credible,” she said.
Investigators said Oliphant and Nichols were untruthful in their initial interviews.
Troutman was told Brooks fired four initial shots and then fired five times once the truck had backed up. Investigators have said that only five bullet holes were found in the truck.
“Was it excessive? Yes, it was when they had drove off,” she said.
“Roy Brooks is not the martyr,” Troutman said.
She believes there were no shots fired from inside the truck as Brooks reported. Troutman said investigators did not test anyone involved in the incident for impairment, although toxicology tests were run on Daniel and William. She said her son may have been intoxicated, but he and Daniel couldn’t have been the only ones. Joseph Fruia had also reportedly been consuming alcohol.
William, she said, was kind to others, didn’t seek attention and “never back talked” to her.
“He had a life. He didn’t deserve to be killed,” she said.
He sometimes helped his little brother with Cub Scout projects including a rocket the two built before his death.
William was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College while working at Airgas National Welders where he’d been employed since May 2011.
She broke the news to younger son Easton initially by telling him his brother was in an accident and went to live with Jesus.
“He said, ‘My brother is never coming home?’ ” Troutman said.
It wasn’t until sometime later Troutman told Easton everything because she didn’t want him to hear the news from someone other than her.
Every now and then, mother and son fill balloons with helium, write messages to William and release them.
Her co-workers at South Rowan High, where she works in the cafeteria, have been very supportive, Troutman said. So have William’s co-workers, who called him “Slim.”
“He meant something to somebody other than his family,” Troutman said.
Laurie Redman and her husband, Keith, both feel justice was not served.
“I feel there was enough evidence to move forward with a trial. They were not able to tell us whether the gunshot had been fired or not,” she said.
Investigators said Oliphant had a shotgun that night and they believe he fired that shotgun at Roy Brooks.
The couple met with Cook on Monday along with Troutman, she said, expecting to hear Cook would be taking the case to trial.
Laurie said she didn’t see Daniel as a stepson, but felt as close to him as if he were her biological child.
“Judgement may not be served here on earth, but they will stand before God and be judged,” Laurie said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne.SalisburyPost.