It was just a crime of opportunity for four young people who thought a nice watch was reason for a robbery attempt that turned into a murder, one of the participants said Thursday, Jan. 20 during a Richmond County Superior Court hearing.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 2020, 21-year-old Deivante A. McFadden was fatally shot as he tried to flee when two men, at least one armed with a handgun, tried to rob him as he sat in his vehicle on Winston Way.
Ebonee Jones, Rian R. Stone and Carlos Mack were hanging out in an apartment complex parking lot that night, “just chilling” when then-14-year-old Janiah Sullivan sent Facebook messages to Stone and Mack, Jones said. The guy she was with, McFadden, had a nice watch, Sullivan wrote. It could be an easy robbery.
Jones drove Mack to meet up with Stone on Winston Way where McFadden was sitting in his vehicle with Sullivan and another female, who has not been charged in the crime. Stone and Mack walked up to McFadden’s window and told him to “give it up.” As McFadden tried to drive away, Stone fired, said Assistant District Attorney Jarryd Brown on Thursday.
Jones, now 22, said Thursday in Richmond County Superior Court that she heard one gunshot before Stone and the other two females present got into Stone’s vehicle and left the scene, and Mack jumped back in her car, and she drove off.
McFadden was left alone with a fatal gunshot wound through the left side of his chest. He died later that morning at a hospital, Brown told the judge.
Jones pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, a crime punishable by up to 30 years, although if she fulfills her side of the plea negotiation and testifies truthfully next week, she will be sentenced to no more than 10 years in prison. Her attorney, Keith Johnson, told the judge she wants to be sentenced as a first offender. That will erase the conviction from her criminal record if she successfully completes her sentence.
Jones said Thursday that she saw Stone with a gun but didn’t see one on Mack, whom she has known for years. When he got back into the car after the shooting, Mack was upset, Jones said.
“I don’t know why he shot him,” she quoted Mack as saying. Later in the day, he repeated that statement, adding, “We didn’t even get anything.”
Sullivan, the youngest of the four defendants who is accused of setting McFadden up, is also expected to testify against Mack and Stone next week as part of a plea agreement. Richmond County Judge John Flythe will impose their sentences after the trial.
Mack, now 21, and Stone, now 19, have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.