RACINE — Bond was set Tuesday at $250,000 for a Racine man charged in connection with a triple homicide in 2005 in the city — allegedly sparked by a fixed dice game.
Demetrus N. Ozier, 31, of the 1600 block of Phillips Avenue, is accused in the deaths of Racine residents Ryan Lockridge, Aaron Woods, and Frank Mister, all 23 years old at the time. They were shot and killed on July 17, 2005, in a parking lot in the 1300 block of Washington Avenue after an alleged dispute about a prior dice game turned violent, according to Racine investigators. Four others also were wounded in that altercation.
Racine County Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch set Ozier’s bond at $250,000 cash during his initial appearance in court Tuesday. Assistant District Attorney Jacalyn LaBre had asked for a $500,000 cash bond.
“This is a very serious offense involving the deaths of two individuals,” LaBre said during the hearing.
“I’ll reserve argument on bond,” said defense attorney Ann T. Bowe, of Milwaukee.
Lockridge suffered a gunshot wound to the head, Woods had a single gunshot wound to the hip and Mister received gunshot wounds “to his lower right side” and one to his right hip, according to Ozier’s criminal complaint.
One man, Willie Ward, allegedly was the target of the shooting because Ozier lost money to another man during the dice game at a spot called Cash Money Bar and Ward wouldn’t return Ozier’s cash, the complaint stated. The other man was accused of using “crooked dice” in the game, according to the complaint.
After the killings, Ozier — known as “Big Meechie” — and Juwan Tyrae Matthews, who also faces homicide charges, reportedly fled “down south” because they thought they would be charged with murder, Matthews allegedly told police.
According to the complaint, Mister was in Matthews’ and Ozier’s crew, and Ward shot Mister.
Ozier was charged on May 10 with being a party to the crimes of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and four counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. He is charged with being a repeat offender on all six counts, which is a sentencing enhancer — if convicted as a repeat offender.
The charges are Class A felonies, punishable by more than 240 years in prison alone if convicted of all the charges. LaBre said the two homicide charges are punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
Ozier was arrested late last month in Memphis, Tenn., after he reportedly was stopped at the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles with a packet of false identification documents, according to Racine police. He allegedly was preparing to obtain fake identification, police stated.
During Tuesday’s hearing, LaBre said this shows he had intent to flee.
Ozier remains in the Racine County Jail. Rudebusch set his preliminary hearing for July 3.
Mary Helena, Woods’ mother, said after Tuesday’s hearing that no one should be absolved in the triple slaying.
“We pray for all of them — (for) justice,” she said. “Prayer changes things. That’s the only way I could have dealt with this.”
Helena said the shootings affected everyone whose loved ones were involved early that morning.
“God gives life,” she said. “You don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.”
Shortly after the killings, Ozier and Matthews became prime suspects and were arrested on probation violations, but there wasn’t enough evidence at that time to charge them, according to police.
Matthews, 29, of Racine, also faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide. He was in court earlier this month. He has pleaded not guilty and his next court date is July 19, court records show.