Police are investigating whether a gun seized during a motor vehicle stop Thursday evening in Norwich is linked to the murder of 28-year-old Darius Bishop, whose body was found early Tuesday in a Bozrah field.
The driver of the car, Dequan McKethan, 34, of 61 Summit St. was arraigned Friday afternoon in Norwich Superior Court on several criminal and motor vehicle charges, including criminal possession of a firearm, having a weapon in a motor vehicle, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana.
McKethan has not been charged with Bishop's murder. Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman, said police are still actively investigating the homicide and would not comment on McKethan's arrest.
The possible link to the homicide arose when two Norwich officers, knowing state police had identified the weapon that killed Bishop as a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, found McKethan in possession of a .22 caliber Beretta.
During his brief court appearance, McKethan, who was still wearing his street clothes — blue jeans and a black shirt — told the court he was supposed to start a new job Friday.
The bail commissioner said McKethan was an unemployed recording artist who has lived in Connecticut for nine to 10 years. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., he has an extensive criminal record, including arrests in New York for first-degree robbery and convictions in Connecticut for third-degree assault and possession of narcotics.
Judge Kevin McMahon raised McKethan's bond from $250,000 to $500,000 and set his next court date for Friday.
According to a police report prepared by Norwich Officer Avery Marsh, he and Officer Kenneth Wright were patrolling the Summit Street area Wednesday when they saw a red Nissan Maxima without a front license plate. Marsh had a police dispatcher run a check on the back marker plate. The check revealed that plate belonged to another car.
The officers attempted to follow McKethan but lost sight of him and broadcast an alert in an attempt to locate the car.
The next day, Marsh and Wright patrolled the same area and saw the car parked in front of 61 Summit St. Police said McKethan was sitting in the driver's seat accompanied by a female, later identified as his girlfriend. McKethan drove off and was pulled over in the area of Mechanic Street.
Marsh, in his report, said he saw McKethan move his right arm in a downward motion as if he were trying to conceal something.
McKethan continued to make movements in the car, so he was asked to step outside. When asked whether he had any weapons in his possession, he was at first silent but then responded, "No, I don't have any knives," the report said.
Marsh said he then asked whether McKethan had any guns in the car, and McKethan was silent. He later admitted having a knife underneath a seat.
During the search of McKethan's person, police said, they found a clear plastic bag containing a white powder that later tested positive for cocaine.
"That's flour. I'm not going to lie. I use it," McKethan told police. The officer's report noted that "drug dealers and users will refer to cocaine as 'flour.'"
Marsh said he then used his K-9, Luther, to search McKethan's vehicle. The dog found a marijuana cigar in the center console, he said.
Marsh said he also found a cellphone and a .22 caliber Beretta. "Prior to this investigation, I was aware that Connecticut State Police were investigating a homicide in Bozrah, where a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun was used on the deceased victim," he reported.
Bishop, a resident of Norwich, was found dead in the Ray Hayward Memorial Field on Route 163 in Bozrah around 7:15 Tuesday morning. The state medical examiner on Thursday declared the death a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound.
Marsh also noted that McKethan was found sitting in his car less than 300 feet from where Bishop's car was found on Bills Avenue.
The state police Major Crime Squad was informed of the find. They told Norwich police to seize the car and all items as evidence. A state police officer said he would go to Norwich police headquarters to examine the gun and attempt to speak to McKethan.
When Norwich police told McKethan that state police wanted to speak to him, he responded, "The state police? This must be a big deal. Officer, everything is mine."
The report noted that during the booking process, McKethan was not questioned about the handgun. He started a conversation and told police, "I can't believe I let my boy use the car yesterday to drop off his girl, and now there is a gun in there," the report said.
Police also said that the seized cellphone had a text message from McKethan to an unknown subject, stating, "I got that wight." Police said "wight" or "white" is a term used to refer to cocaine.
State police seized the cellphone, the gun, its magazine and seven hollow-point Super X brand ammunition.
The report does not say whether McKethan spoke to state police.
Anyone with information on the murder is asked to call state police at (860) 537-7500. All calls will be kept confidential.