Inmate facing a 3rd-degree murder charge

During a heated argument in which he believed 21-year-old Donte Lane Marks was “making fun of him,” Daran Malik Sears pointed a gun at him and “at the spur of the moment,” allegedly shot the man in the chest, city police Friday.

Sears, 19, fatally shot Marks because Marks accused him of “being a little a- boy that couldn’t hold a gun and be watching the cartoon Phineas and Ferb,” Agent Trent R. Peacock said investigators were told.

Sears has been incarcerated at the Lycoming County Prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter since last June 13, when Marks was shot shortly after 2 p.m. in Sears’ apartment at 1261 W. Fourth St.

Sears had claimed that he was handling a gun when it suddenly went off, the bullet striking Marks, who lived on High Street. Marks was rushed to the Williamsport Regional Medical Center, where he died an hour later.

Investigators now believe the shooting was no accident and have charged Sears with third-degree murder.

An inmate who shared a cell with Sears at the county prison came forward to report that Sears told him he shot Marks during a heated argument that began as Sears “was playing with his .22” caliber handgun, according to an affidavit filed by Peacock.

Sears apparently became more upset as Marks continued to disrespect him, the inmate told investigators.

The teen pointed the gun at Marks, “telling him he would shoot him and show him who’s a little a- boy,” the inmate, whose identity was not released, said Sears told him, according to Peacock.

In the alleged conversation with the inmate, Sears referred to Marks as his “Brother Tay,” saying Marks had “pissed him off,” Peacock said.

“The inmate (even took) notes on the (alleged) conversation and signed them before turning them over as evidence,” Peacock said.

“The inmate had no way of knowing the details of the events that day unless he learned them first-hand from Sears. Sears had told us about the specific cartoon he was watching and the harassment he took from Marks, but denied that they had argued about it,” Peacock said in the affidavit.

“The account of the events that Sears provided the inmate also match information provided” by a maintenance man who was cleaning another apartment in the building when the shooting occurred, Peacock said.

The maintenance man told police he “heard two men arguing in an upstairs apartment. One person said ‘I’m going to kill you.’ A few seconds later he heard a bang, but to him it did not sound like a gunshot,” Peacock said.

The gunshot was “followed by what he described as a person falling on the floor and then a person running down (a flight) of steps and out the building,” Peacock said.

Police said the person the maintenance man likely heard running out of the building was a witness to the shooting, 18-year-old Demetri Demarr Carroll, of the 2100 block of Webb Street.

Carroll apparently ran to Marks’ vehicle that was parked in front of the building and removed another handgun.

The handgun used in the fatal shooting was recovered inside Sears’ apartment, police said. It turned out the weapon was stolen, police said.

Three weeks after the shooting, Carroll and another man, Derrick Wayne Moyer, allegedly fired a handgun into a crowd, injuring one man, outside the YMCA on Elmira Street following a fireworks display on the night of July 4. Both remain incarcerated and are awaiting trial.

Sears was taken from the prison on Friday and arraigned before District Judge James Carn on the new homicide charge. He automatically was recommitted since no bail is set in homicide cases. He was held for court in late July on the involuntary manslaughter charge and related offenses.