Homicide victim's family: Mullen feared ex-boyfriend Daise

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comOctober 15, 2013 

On the other end of the phone, Alleen Porter could hear her best friend arguing with Earnest Daise.

Jeanine Mullen was "terribly afraid" of Daise, her ex-boyfriend, who threatened to kill Mullen and her children, Porter testified Tuesday.

Porter was among friends and family who said during the second day of Daise's capital murder trial that, before she was killed in her Dale home in November 2009, Mullen planned to leave him.

Daise, 31, of Burton faces two counts of murder and other charges in the death of his ex-girlfriend and her 4-year-old son, Waltfredo Davis-Mullen. Daise also is accused of wounding the son he had with Mullen, Jeremiah Daise. The boy, 2 at the time, was shot through the ear but survived.

Daise could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder charges.

Mullen was a 34-year-old single mother of four and a kindergarten teaching assistant at Shanklin Elementary School. She, Waltfredo and Jeremiah were all shot in the head.

Porter and Mullen's father, Frank, both said Mullen told them she planned to end the relationship with Daise and had enrolled in University of Phoenix classes to earn a teaching degree. Frank Mullen said Jeanine told him she "couldn't deal with Earnest anymore."

Mullen's oldest son, Jaseri, said his mother told her children days before her death that she wanted to move on.

"She told us she didn't want to be with him anymore," Jaseri Mullen said.

THE WHITE VAN

Frank Mullen testified that when he picked up Mullen's older two sons on the day their mother was killed -- Nov. 15, 2009 -- Mullen's white minivan wasn't parked in the driveway. Frank Mullen testified that he had taken Mullen's older sons out for a drive around Beaufort County that dayso his daughter could take out Jeremiah and Waltfredo for Waltfredo's birthday.

"There were only two people that drove that van -- Jeanine and Earnest," Frank Mullen said.

Jeanine Mullen's son Jaion testified Daise stayed overnight at the house Nov. 14 and left driving the van the next morning.

When Frank Mullen went to drop off his grandsons later that day, he found the van parked outside his daughter's Player Road home. All of the minivan's doors, except the front passenger door, were open. Jaion Mullen said the van "looked like it had been ransacked."

Fighting back tears, Frank Mullen described finding his daughter and her two children shot. Mullen said he was unable to rouse any of them and assumed they were dead, but an emergency medical technician told Mullen they were able to get a response from Jeremiah, who was taken to the hospital for treatment.

"They took him out of the house like a bat out of hell," he said.

Other witnesses testified that they saw Daise driving the white minivan that day. Billie Dobbs, who works at a BP gas station in Beaufort that her family owns, said security footage shows Daise and the minivan at the gas station at about noon that day.

Michael Wilson, a resident along Poppy Hill Road in Beaufort, testified that he saw Daise outside Eddie's Disco on the road later that day. Wilson said Daise drove away from the bar in a white minivan.

THE MOBILE HOME

Much of Tuesday afternoon's testimony focused on a mobile home owned by Daise's friend Jamelle Simmons. Daise occasionally used a room in the mobile home on Poppy Hill Road.

When questioned Nov. 18, 2009, Simmons told investigators Daise had been at the mobile home during the afternoon of Nov. 15, according to Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Fraser. Simmons also denied several times that he owned a cellphone, but investigators found one during a search of Simmons' bedroom, Fraser said.

That's when Simmons changed his story.

He told investigators Daise called him the day of the murder, asking for a ride from Dale, Fraser testified. When Simmons arrived at the designated spot -- near Albany General Store in Dale, at the corner of Keans Neck and Kinloch roads -- he noted Daise looked "distraught."

"He said he thought Daise had been robbed," Fraser said. "He didn't say anything on the ride home, either."

Daise's cellphone, found in his room in the mobile home, had a text message from Simmons reading "on my way." It was sent at 6:04 p.m. Nov. 15, Sgt. Christine Wilson said. Wilson collected Daise's cellphone and several items from his room in the Poppy Hill mobile home during an early morning search on Nov. 16. Simmons' bedroom was searched Nov. 18 while he was being questioned at the Sheriff's Office, Fraser said.

In his testimony Tuesday, however, Simmons denied talking to Daise or picking him up the day Jeanine Mullen and her sons were killed.

Mark MacDougall, one of Daise's attorneys, read a statement Simmons gave to an investigator in April 2012, in which Simmons denied that he picked up Daise. He said he made his earlier statements only because investigators pressured him to do so and warned he could be charged as an accessory to the crime.

"The statement reads, 'They were trying to charge me as an accessory because they had the texts that I'd be there, but I never picked him up,' " MacDougall said.

Fraser said during cross-examination he often warned during interviews about the possibility of accessory charges, but didn't threaten Simmons with it.

"He repeated over and over during the interview he just didn't want to be involved," Fraser said.

During the search of Daise's room Nov. 16, Wilson and other investigators found drugs, money, and ammunition on Daise's bed and in a floor vent. Daise also faces crack cocaine trafficking and possession with intent to distribute marijuana charges.

Wilson testified substances later confirmed to be about 221 grams of marijuana and 23 grams of crack cocaine were found in a gray plastic bag on Daise's bed. Inside a nearby floor vent, $3,000 in cash and an electronic scale were hidden, she added. Baking soda and rifle ammunition were found on a shelf in the bedroom closet. All of the items were seized by the Sheriff's Office and shown to the jury Tuesday.

Sheriff's Office investigator Andrew Rice said baking soda is commonly used to dilute cocaine and boil crack cocaine. Rice, part of the Sheriff's Office Drug Task Force in 2009, said the drugs had a street value of about $1,500 to $2,000.

Wilson said during cross-examination there were no signs in the room that Daise planned to leave the area, and that no weapons were found there, either; Wilson said the only gun in the mobile home was found in Simmons' room on Nov. 18. Wilson also said there was no activity between Daise and Mullen's phones on Nov. 15 during MacDougall's cross-examination.

JEREMIAH DAISE

One of the pediatric surgeons involved in the treatment of Jeremiah Daise at the Medical University of South Carolina testified Tuesday morning, describing the injuries the boy suffered when he was shot.

A CT scan showed the bullet that hit Daise behind his left ear glanced off his spinal column before exiting through his right ribcage, Dr. Robert Cina said. After passing through soft tissue in his neck, the bullet destroyed three vertebrae, then passed one of his lungs, bruising and damaging it. The bullet exited Daise's chest, fracturing a rib as it passed through.

But it did not hit his spinal column.

"It's amazing how this bullet got to where it went," Cina testified.

Daise was intubated to help his breathing. A chest tube to help drain his chest of air and fluids that was inserted during treatment at Beaufort Memorial Hospital was kept in, Cina said. Those tubes were left in place for several days and were visible on the CT scans Cina showed to jurors.

Cina said Daise was admitted to MUSC's pediatric intensive care unit as a level A trauma patient, the highest level the hospital has. However, Daise did not require surgery for his injuries, as damage to the lung healed on its own, Cina said.

Daise was placed in a brace on the recommendation of the hospital's pediatric neurosurgeon's to help stabilize the damaged vertebrae, Cina said.

During cross-examination by MacDougall, Cina said he didn't recall if investigators had ever visited Jeremiah while at MUSC. Cina said the intake report for Daise said he had been shot by his father at a birthday party, and that his father also shot his mother and brother.

The trial will continue this morning, with Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen presiding.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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