Sears held for court on 3rd-degree murder charge

In a third-degree murder case, Lycoming County Prison inmate Gage Michael Wood testified Tuesday that fellow inmate Daran Malik Sears told him inside the jail on two occasions that he shot and killed Donte Marks because he was upset by Marks making fun of him.

“He also said he could not believe that he shot his brother over something so stupid,” Wood, 19, told District Judge James Carn during Sears’ preliminary hearing.

After hearing 30 minutes of testimony from Wood and another prosecution witness, Carn ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Sears, also 19, on the murder charge.

Marks, 21, was shot in Sears’ second-floor apartment at 1261 W. Fourth St. on the afternoon of June 13. Marks died an hour later at the Williamsport Regional Medical Center of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The victim was not related to Sears, but Sears referred to him as “Brother Tay,” police said.

Sears was arrested and jailed on the day of the shooting on a charge of involuntary manslaughter and related offenses.

A third-degree murder charge was filed earlier this month against Sears following alleged revelations from a fellow inmate, identified Tuesday for the first time publicly as Wood.

Wood, jailed since November 2012 on burglary and drug charges, said Sears first spoke to him about the shooting soon after Sears was incarcerated.

Wood testified that Sears told him that he got upset with Marks because Marks was making fun of him, calling him “a little a- boy” and saying he couldn’t hold a gun while watching the cartoon “Phineus and Ferb.”

Quoting what Sears told him, Wood testified “At the spur of the moment, I pulled the trigger.”

Wood said that he and Sears had a second conversation at the jail sometime later in which Sears again admitted he shot Marks out of anger.

Carn also heard testimony from James Boring, a maintenance man in Sears’ apartment building who was cleaning an apartment on the first floor when the shooting occurred, police said.

“I heard arguing, yelling real loud, upstairs,” Boring said.

“Then I heard someone say ‘I’m going to kill you. About five to 10 seconds later I heard a bang that sounded like two pots and pans coming together,” he testified.

Boring said he did not see the gunman or who got shot. All he heard after the gunfire was someone running down a flight of stairs and out the door.

Sears remains jailed without bail.