Demarcus Montrel Giddens, 22, and Gertavious Montrez Canada, 25, were scheduled to begin their trial Tuesday each on armed robbery and felony first-degree murder charges for the death of 16-year-old Arnold High School student Jason Ian Price.

PANAMA CITY – A missing witness and a reluctant co-defendant in the deadly shooting of a 16-year-old Arnold High School student during an alleged  marijuana robbery plot has postponed the murder trial of two men, according to court records.

Demarcus Montrel Giddens, 22, and Gertavious Montrez Canada, 25, were scheduled to begin their trial Tuesday each on armed robbery and felony first-degree murder charges. They were arrested in August 2017 after authorities arrived at the CVS, 7112 U.S. 98 (Back Beach Road), about midnight to find Jason Ian Price shot to death. However, with the recent disappearance of an “essential witness” in the trial and the refusal of a third defendant to cooperate, prosecutors have postponed the trial date Giddens and Canada will go before a jury until September or October, court records stated.

According to court records, an essential witness, who was not identified, had been “actively avoiding” being served with a subpoena as the trial date closed in. Despite law enforcement having leads on his whereabouts, he has yet to be located. Also, the third defendant in the case, 18-year-old Rodney Racquez Jones, has decided to not cooperate despite giving authorities an account of the entire incident, court records stated.

“Jones violated his plea agreement yesterday, August 16, 2018, by refusing to cooperate with the state,” prosecutors wrote. “This was unexpected since he already participated in sworn deposition which essentially exposed him to a life sentence.”

Instead of facing life in prison as a principal to murder, Jones had agreed to spend 20 years in prison in exchange for his testimony against Canada and Giddens.

In his sworn testimony given to the State Attorney’s Office, Jones told prosecutors he, Giddens and Canada — along with several others –— made the four-hour drive to Panama City Beach from Auburn, Alabama, last August with no particular plan in mind or any hotel room booked. Jones said Giddens had brought a Draco AK-47 pistol in his backpack during the trip. After spending some time at the beach, Jones said his group met a group of Arnold High School students at the Taco Bell on the intersection of U.S. 98 and Thomas Drive, court records stated.

Jones said he asked the group if he could buy some marijuana, and one of them made a call. As the group walked across Wildwood Road to the nearby CVS, Jones said Giddens hatched the plan to rob the students.

“D (Demarcus) was like, ‘Hey, look you know what I’m saying, I’m fixing to get them. I’m f****d up, I’m fixing to rob them,’ ” Jones recalled. “I ain’t really think he was going to do it.”

According to his statements, Jones was around the side of the CVS “scaling up” or weighing some marijuana when he heard a scuffle and saw Giddens confront Price — who had arrived at the CVS moments before — with a firearm, putting the gun to his chest and pulling the trigger.

“I just heard D say, ‘You think this is a f*****g game?’ and then I heard the gun go pow,” Jones said. “As soon as he touched him with it, he dropped, boom, he dropped back, he said, ‘Ah, you shot me’ and dropped straight back.′”

At the sound of the gunshot, Jones said he panicked and punched the male who delivered the marijuana, stealing his watch and his phone before fleeing with Giddens. All three men were eventually tracked down and taken into custody, where Jones, Giddens and Canada remain to date.

A tentative trial date has been scheduled for Sept. 24.

Staff reporter Eryn Dion contributed to this report.