Public Safety

Bedroom became murder scene, Cedar Rapids woman testifies

Ex-boyfriend accused of bursting in, opening fire on couple

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman testified Thursday she was in bed with her boyfriend when a former boyfriend burst in, made a racial slur and opened fire.

Mone Dotson, 19 at the time and now 20, told jurors she was confused how the former boyfriend, Ezekiel Phillips, got into her apartment and she asked him why he was there. Her boyfriend, Tyrice Douglas, sat up as Phillips starting firing a handgun, she said. Phillips didn’t stop shooting until the clip was empty, Dotson said.

Phillips, 30, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury and going armed with intent.

He is accused of firing a “multitude of shots” at Douglas, 27, which later killed him, and seriously injuring Dotson at her northeast Cedar Rapids apartment in the Dec. 19, 2018, shooting, a criminal complaint shows.

Phillips initially was charged with two counts of attempted murder. But one was upgraded to first-degree murder when Douglas died May 6, according to records.

The trial started Monday with jury selection and testimony began Thursday. The trial will go into next week.

Dotson said Phillips was less than 10 feet from the bed when he shot them. There were no lights on in the room — but there was one on in the kitchen — and she said she recognized his voice and could see his face and body.

After Phillips ran out of the apartment, Douglas told her to get help. Dotson was shot four times — in the shoulder, lower leg, thigh and hip area — but she got up and went into the bathroom to call police. But she had trouble unlocking the screen on her phone because it had her blood all over it.

Dotson finally called 911, a recording of which was played for the jury. She told the dispatcher what had happened and where she lived, but then she started screaming.

Dotson said that’s when Phillips returned to the apartment, but she slipped on her pooling blood and could not keep him from pushing his way in. Phillips started “smacking” her and knocked the phone out of her hand, she said, and cursed at her.

“I said I’m sorry — trying to calm him down,” Dotson said. “He reached for the phone and I pushed him and ran.”

Injured, she ran to two houses, knocking on doors. The second door opened for her, and a woman let her come in and they called 911.

During that call, Dotson identified Phillips as the shooter, saying he has a cross tattoo on his face and was dressed in black clothing.

Earlier that night, Dotson argued with Phillips because he wanted to come over. She told him no and hung up on him.

Dotson said she had let Phillips’ cousin stay at her apartment before, and she had given Phillips a key a few months earlier to let him in. But she didn’t know if he kept a copy of the key.

Tyonna Nathan, 20, who now lives out of state but also was in the apartment that night, also testified that Phillips was the shooter.

She said Dotson had asked her to spend the night because she didn’t want to be alone. Before the shooting, she and Dotson were smoking marijuana about midnight. Nathan said her “high” was gone before the shooting started after 2:30 a.m.

Nathan said Phillips opened the front door and walked past her into the bedroom.

She admitted to not having her glasses on, but could see the man was Phillips, dressed in all black clothing.

Nathan, tearing up, said she heard screaming and gunshots. She ran out and called her mother and then 911.

During cross-examination, Tyler Johnston, one of Phillips’ lawyers, pointed out some inconsistencies with her version of what happened.

He played portions of Nathan’s interview with police, during which she said she could not see without her glasses and only saw a “shadow or his shape.”

Nathan also talked to several friends on the phone while waiting for police in an interview room, telling them she didn’t have her glasses on and was “blind as hell” without them.

But Nathan said she knew it was Phillips by his voice and his shape.

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