A Houston County jury deliberated only 90 minutes Thursday before finding Deondray Darnell Yarn guilty of murder and all related charges in a gang-related slaying at a Warner Robins gas station three years ago.
Monnie Joseph Brabham IV, 32, was shot and killed minutes before noon on Jan. 23, 2014, at the pumps of Murphy USA near a Wal-Mart on Booth Road in Warner Robins.
His silver 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood was stolen and later recovered by police, abandoned in a nearby neighborhood.
Yarn was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
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Family and friends of Brabham and Yarn listened quietly as as the verdict was read aloud by Superior Court Judge G.E. “Bo” Adams.
Co-defendants Michael Montreal Gooden and Clifton James Roberts, the key witnesses against Yarn, told jurors that Brabham was killed by mistake in a kidnapping gone wrong. Brabham’s lifelong friend, LaJerrious Barfield, had split with the gang and was the intended target.
The defense argued that Yarn was the “fall guy” for Gooden and Roberts, who singled him out as the other shooter at the gas station to save their own skins when the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty in plea deals. But the prosecution countered that Yarn was fully involved in the killing, firing off a shot that missed Barfield. Gooden and Roberts testified that they both thought Barfield, who fell to ground as he was running away, had been killed also.
“My heart just goes out to the family of the victim,” said Russell Walker, Yarn’s attorney, after the verdict. “This was absolutely a senseless killing. I’m disappointed in the verdict. But this was a tragic event.”
Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters said afterward, “Obviously, we are thrilled with the jury’s verdict. We are thankful for the time they put in; the attention they gave.
“Obviously, this does not bring Monnie Brabham back. But hopefully it will help his family with closure and … I’m thankful we got justice for him.”
Yarn’s sentencing is expected at a later date before Adams. Yarn faces life with the possibility of parole or life without the possibility of a parole.
Gooden and Roberts’ plea deal included a recommended sentence of life with the possibility of parole in exchange for their truthful testimony. Others indicted in the Brabham killing also struck deals with the prosecution.
Gooden and Roberts’ sentences would run concurrent with lengthy sentences received earlier this year in connection with the 2014 gang-related kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father.