Taste owner says murder victim also fired a gun

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Courtroom testimony Tuesday revealed that a young man shot to death outside the Taste after-hours club this month had fired a handgun moments before his own death.

Anton Shamon Miller, 25, of Cape Girardeau, was shot four times in his back Jan. 1. Cape Girardeau County Coroner Mike Hurst said any one of those bullets could have killed him. Bullets pierced both lungs, broke a rib and severed his aorta.

Samuel M. Houston, 20, of Thebes, Ill., was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. At a preliminary hearing in Jackson, Taste operator Patrick Buck testified about witnessing the death of his longtime friend.

According to Buck, the suspect and his 22-year-old brother, Shamir Houston, showed up at the club at 402 Good Hope Street after 2:45 a.m.

"I have had an incident with Shamir at the club a couple of times before," Buck said. "I patted him down and let him in."

Buck said he also patted down Miller when he arrived but had not found weapons on either man.

However, Samuel Houston had to stay outside.

"Sam didn't look old enough to be in and I didn't let him in," Buck said.

Soon afterward, Buck ordered Shamir Houston to leave because he was arguing with another patron. As Buck followed him out, Miller tagged along and exchanged words with Shamir Houston.

Buck said Shamir Houston first struck Miller and the two fought. Seconds later, Miller pulled out a handgun and fired.

"The gun was a total surprise to me," Buck said. "He fired one shot and told the dude 'I could kill you.'"

Buck ran over and took the gun from Miller, who was pointing it at the ground, he said. The club owner then separated the two men. But while they were walking away, they clashed again. Shamir Houston fell down and Miller continued to strike him.

Buck said that's when Samuel Houston walked over. At first, Buck thought he might try to pull his brother away.

"But instead, he said something about 'shooting my brother' or 'tried to shoot my brother' and started shooting," Buck said.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Gary Kamp found probable cause existed for the charges and sent the case to the circuit level for trial. The shooting suspect's arraignment was set for Feb. 9.

Shamir Houston, who was charged with unlawful use of a weapon after hospital staff found a handgun in his sweatpants Jan. 1, also had a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning. Kamp also bound his case over to the circuit level for trial and set the same Feb. 9 arraignment date.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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