Shooting investigation
De'Von Dre'Col Smith


De’Von Dre’Col Smith appeared in Pittsylvania County General District Court Tuesday morning, March 5 for a preliminary hearing. 

Smith is charged in the Jan. 6 shooting death of Deon “DJ” Jawan Peatross at 2521 Martin Drive in Axton. Peatross’ mother, Veronica Peatross, testified about the circumstances that lead to the death of her son. 

Veronica Peatross testified her son shot first at Smith when questioned by the defense.

Smith is the son-in-low to Veronica Peatross. 

An argument began Jan. 6 between the Peatross’ and Smith by text message after they learned the defendant was about to have a baby by another woman.

Veronica and DJ Peatross shared a cell phone to exchange messages with Smith.

“I told [Smith] he was a lowdown,” Peatross testified. She was upset Smith was reportedly cheating on his wife, who is also her daughter.

At some point, the messages being exchanged were done over Facebook Messenger. Veronica Peatross in the process of responding to Smith discovered some of the messages to Smith had mistakenly been sent using her son’s account.

Veronica Peatross told the court she was not sure what Smith and DJ Peatross may have said in their messages.

While with family at 2521 Martin Drive, Veronica Peatross testified she was preparing to take DJ Peatross’ girlfriend to work when Smith was spotted driving along the roadway. 

Smith allegedly drove past the home, turned around in a neighbor’s driveway, and parked parallel  to the road across the street from the driveway of the Peatross’ location. 

The driver’s side of the car was facing the road. 

“[Smith] got out and hollered, ‘you got a gun, you got a gun. I thought we was gonna fight,’” Veronica Peatross testified.

DJ Peatross was to her right. Moments before going outside, Veronica Peatross asked if he wanted her gun in the event Smith appeared at the residence.

“I didn’t know what this fool was going to do,” Veronica Peatross testified.

Smith went around to the passenger side of the car and retrieved a firearm. It was not made clear in testimony what kind of firearm Smith was in possession of.  

“I saw DJ’s arm come out of his pocket and fire my gun. He had my gun,” Veronica Peatross testified. 

While Veronica Peatross ran toward the end of the driveway demanding Smith to stop firing, DJ Peatross ran for cover behind a nearby tree — he did not make it.

As a passenger in Smith’s car yelled at him to stop and panicked, Smith told the passenger he was not leaving. 

The passenger went around to the driver’s side and sped off. 

Veronica Peatross watched as Smith raised his weapon once more and began to fire.

“I called [Smith] a low down dog. Devon stopped shooting and lowered his weapon,” Veronica Peatross said. It was at that moment she realized she had not heard anything from DJ Peatross. 

“I turned, and he was on the ground,” Veronica Peatross said. She rushed to his side and called 911. 

Veronica Peatross testified that DJ Peatross had a hole in him, his eyes were fixed, and his pulse was weak. 

“He had been running toward a nearby tree, maybe three feet away, and didn’t make it,” Veronica Peatross testified through tears. 

Judge George Jones certified the case to the next Pittsylvania County Circuit Court grand jury, which will decide whether to indict Smith with first degree murder in April. 

Smith remains free on bond. 

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