Fishzilla murder trial continues with employee testimony, footage of deadly arcade shooting

Published 12:10 am Thursday, September 16, 2021

SALISBURY — Curtis Quick said he was “bewildered” and “stunned” following a deadly shooting at Fishzilla Arcade in April 2018.

Quick, an employee at Fishzilla at the time, was the third witness called to the stand in Rowan County Superior Court on Wednesday to testify in the prosecution’s case against Dedric Michelle Mason. 

Mason, 45, is facing second-degree murder charges for the killing of James Christopher Davis, better known to his friends and family as “Milkbone,” or “Milk.” Davis was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of April 21, 2018, following the incident at Fishzilla, an adult gaming facility located at 1812 E. Innes St.

The prosecution in the case against Mason is led by Assistant District Attorneys Barrett Poppler and Jennifer Greene while the defense is led by Ryan Stowe and Todd Paris.

The trial got underway on Tuesday afternoon after a 12-person jury and four alternates were selected. Tuesday featured opening arguments from both the prosecution and defense and testimonies from Cheviss Bennett, who was Davis’ girlfriend of 21 years, and Sgt. Daniel Lancaster of the Salisbury Police Department, who responded to the shooting.

The prosecution on Wednesday introduced three videos depicting different angles captured by security cameras in Fishzilla. The videos were dissected by the prosecution and defense during testimonies from Quick and Robert Livengood, the prosecution’s fourth witness who was also a former Fishzilla employee on duty as security on the night of the shooting.

Each video lasted a little over nine minutes. Two of the videos were color. The video with the best view of the scuffle was in black and white. None of the videos had sound. 

The footage shown in court began with Davis playing at a gaming table with Bennett. Davis had been employed at Fishzilla for several months prior to the shooting. The couple played at the table with Tobias Kersey, another employee of the arcade. In the footage, Mason and her friend, Andrea Dillard, entered the arcade and went to the same table, where the initial argument leading up to the shooting began.

Quick, a combat veteran who had a managerial role at Fishzilla, was in the establishment’s office at the time the argument started. Quick said “nothing seemed to be out of place” when Mason and Dillard entered the arcade, but he said that quickly changed once they sat down at the table with Davis and Bennett.

The noise level of the argument, Quick said, was “definitely louder” than the music and ambient noise in the arcade. The shouting prompted Quick and Livengood to approach the table and ask all parties to leave. 

Livengood said Mason and Dillard were the louder of the arguing parties and that they were insulting Davis, who did not respond. Livengood said Bennett engaged in the argument with Mason and Dillard while also pleading with Davis to leave the arcade.

The videos depicted the argument continuing as Mason, Dillard, Davis and Bennett moved to the counter to cash out. Eventually, a physical altercation broke out between Mason, Dillard and Davis. Livengood testified that the physical altercation began with Mason striking Davis and that Davis defended himself by pushing her back. The video showed Davis and Dillard grappling as they fell to the floor near the third table. Mason also tumbled to the floor near the second table before rising, walking toward Davis and Dillard and seemingly firing her gun at Davis.

Neither Quick nor Livengood attempted to break up the scuffle, which started and finished in less than a minute. Quick called 911 after Mason fired the gun, and the recording of his call was replayed during his testimony on Wednesday.

When asked by the prosecution if they believed anyone’s lives were in danger that night, Quick and Livengood said they did not. Neither said they were afraid of Davis that night. Livengood testified he had a gun at the time of the incident, but he didn’t feel the need to pull it out during the altercation. 

Livengood said the incident “all happened so fast” and that he heard two shots but did not see Mason fire them. Livengood said he was “dumbfounded” after the shooting and saw Mason place her weapon on a gaming table afterward. He confronted Mason, a concealed carry permit holder, about having a gun in Fishzilla. The prosecution introduced a picture of a white “no handgun” sign that was posted near the arcade’s front door.

During his cross-examination of Livengood, Paris asked why the employee didn’t feel the need to step in and help Davis during the scuffle, especially if he thought Davis was being attacked by Mason and Dillard. Livengood replied that Davis “could take care of himself” and didn’t need his help until Davis and Dillard ended up on the ground.

Paris also asked Livengood if he saw Davis put his hand on Dillard’s neck while Davis was on top of her on the ground. Livengood replied that Davis put his hands down on Dillard in order to get up. He also testified that Davis swing at Dillard one time.

The trial reached a stopping point on Wednesday afternoon at the conclusion of Livengood’s testimony. The trial will continue on Thursday morning when the prosecution calls its next witness to the stand.