Brothers sentenced in 'cold-blooded killing' of Longview man
Oct. 11, 2017 at 11:24 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2017 at 4:42 p.m.
UPDATE: A two-year-old murder that prosecutors called a "cold-blooded killing for no reason" has earned two Longview brothers and gang members the maximum sentence recommended for their guilty pleas.
District Judge Alfonso Charles described the September 2015 death of Fedrick Jones, 35, as "an act of senseless violence that this community has seen way too much of."
The judge sentenced Devante Damon Darden, 19, who was identified as the gunman, to 50 years in prison, while brother Deiontray Dewayne Darden, 20, received a 40-year sentence.
"I know nothing that this court or anybody can do will bring your loved one back, but I hope this provides a measure of justice," Charles said, speaking to Jones' family after handing down the sentences.
Both Darden brothers must serve at least half their sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
They had been charged with murder and aggravated robbery along with Divondrick Treveon Murphy, 18, for the shooting of Jones on Scenic Drive in what police said was an attempted robbery.
Murphy was a juvenile at the time of the shooting, and because of that, it is not known if he was indicted in the case. It does not appear a fourth person connected to the case has been charged.
Authorities said the Darden brothers and the two others were high on drugs and had taken part in an earlier robbery at a laundromat.
Prosecutor Stacey Brownlee said Jones had "the unfortunate opportunity to cross the path" of the Darden brothers, who were in their car.
Brownlee said said Devante Darden pulled out a gun and fired it several times even before he and his brother saw Jones, who was walking home with his catfish dinner. Jones was shot in the back as he ran away and later died at a hospital.
"This was not a drug deal gone bad," Brownlee said. "This was not a trap house robbery. This was just a cold-blooded killing on the streets of this community, your honor, for no reason."
Although police said Devante Darden pulled the trigger, Deiontray Darden was prosecuted under the state's Law of Parties statute, which states a person can be held criminally liable for another person's actions in certain cases.
Charles spent several minutes outlining the factors surrounding his decision on the sentences, telling both Darden brothers the fact that they were high at the time of the shooting was not a defense, although it could be considered a mitigating factor, and giving them credit for telling the truth and pleading guilty.
But the judge pointed to several other factors — the pair's associations with the TYB gang, backed up by photos and posts from Facebook; the earlier events on the day of the shooting, including the laundromat robbery; and the actions of the brothers after the shooting — in his decision to give the maximum recommended sentences.
Evidence "suggests that the two Darden brothers were laughing about it, saying maybe they needed to shoot a few more people with that gun and then get rid of it," Charles said. "With that, and the evidence of involvement in gangs and what is happening in this community, I know what a jury would do. If this case had been tried in front of a jury, there's a good chance that Mr. Devante Darden — the jury would not even bother using numbers for his sentence. They'd probably use four letters: L-I-F-E."
Jones' family sat on the other side of the courtroom, watching both brothers as they pleaded guilty.
Jones' sister, Meshell Hodge, spoke afterwards to the brothers, telling them about "the sweetest person anyone could be."
Jones was the youngest of seven children, "my momma's baby," Hodge said.
"He was always smiling and willing to help other people, just for the sake of helping people," she said.
She questioned why they shot her brother and told them her family is still grieving.
"Why my little brother?" she asked. "He wouldn't never hurt — even if he lived through all that happened that night, he would forgive you. I forgive you, but I know that God's got a plan for you, and I know the justice system probably got a plan for you.
"But it just hurts me to see that young people just don't care (about) the value of life. And now your mom will have to deal with losing y'all for all this time."
PREVIOUS:Two Longview men charged with murder in the 2015 death of Fedrick Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to the shooting and were sentenced.
Devante Damon Darden, 19, was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
His brother, Deiontray Dewayne Darden, 20, was sentenced to 40 years.
Both men must serve half of their respective sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
The brothers and 18-year-old Divondrick Treveon Murphy, were charged with murder and aggravated robbery in the case, after police said they robbed a neighbor and then shot Jones in the 400 block of Scenic Drive in West Longview.
Murphy was a juvenile at the time of the shooting, and because of that it is not known if he was indicted in the case.
Jones was found with a gunshot wound to his chest near the intersection of Scenic and Fairway drives on Sept. 7, 2015. He had been walking home at the time, his brother said. Jones died after being taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center.
Jones’s death marked the 10th homicide in 2015.
The trio of suspects were arrested after SWAT team members served arrest and search warrants at their homes about a week after the shooting.