WARNER ROBINS -- Seven-year-old Nakya Brabham has a little diary, her mom says, in which she tries to write letters to her daddy, who was killed while pumping gas at a Booth Road gas station.
Monnie Joseph Brabham IV, 32, was shot and killed minutes before noon Jan. 23 at the pumps of Murphy USA near the busy super Wal-Mart off Russell Parkway.
The girl’s mother, Sophia Redding, of Macon, dated Brabham for 12 years. The couple remained friends after their breakup and Brabham remained actively involved in their daughter’s life, Redding said.
“When he had Nakya, oooh, you’re talking about the smiles,” Redding said. “It was precious moments, the good moments. She was her daddy’s girl. She loved her daddy.”
Five suspected gang members from Atlanta are charged in connection with the killing.
Michael Montreal Gooden, 22, was charged with murder and participation in criminal street gang activity. Clifton James Roberts, 29, Ameshia Cartis Cosby, 17, Deondray Darnell Yarn, 18, and Dewayne Eric Seymore, 28, are each charged with conspiracy to commit murder and participation in criminal street activity.
Gooden and Roberts are being held in undisclosed locations in connection with what Warner Robins police say is an unrelated kidnapping in April of a North Carolina man whose daughter prosecuted a high-ranking Bloods gang member for ordering the killing of another man in 2011.
Kelvin Melton, who is now serving a life sentence in the Polk Correctional Institute in Butner, North Carolina, is accused of organizing and orchestrating from prison the kidnapping of Frank Janssen from his Wake Forest home. Janssen, the father of Colleen Janssen, a Wake County, North Carolina, prosecutor, was rescued by the FBI April 9 from the Atlanta apartment where he was held.
Cosby, Yarn and Seymore are jailed without bond in Houston County. Seymore, who was arrested Wednesday, was the last of the five to be charged.
Police say they believe those charged with killing Brabham were associated with the One Eight Trey gang. Although Warner Robins police have not released much about the slaying, a recent news release noted that Brabham was not part of the gang. The release also noted that One Eight Trey was not a Warner Robins gang.
An ordinary guy
“Monnie was a regular, ordinary guy,” Redding said. “He wasn’t in a gang. He was very family oriented.”
A graduate of Central High School, Brabham had attended Fort Valley State University and had planned to change his major from business administration to auto mechanics once he worked out some financial aid issues, said his aunt Martha Denmark.
He and his two brothers managed an apartment and four houses that were passed to their mother after their father died.
Monnie Brabham’s passion was to work on cars, especially Cadillacs. The Cadillac he was driving the day he was killed was stolen but found abandoned nearby.
On the day, he was killed, Brabham had driven a friend who didn’t have a car to Warner Robins, Denmark said.
“He would do anything for anybody,” Denmark said. “You tell him you’re going to give him a little gas money, and he’ll do it. That’s just how he was.”
Denmark said she was told by a Warner Robins police detective that her nephew was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Carson Brooks, who described himself as Brabham’s best friend, said the suspects actually had targeted another of Brabham’s friends, whom they had planned to rob.
“That was ultimately why Monnie got killed that day because they were trying to rob (his friend) and like I say, the situation is the man just shot him,” Brooks said.
Warner Robins police Capt. Chris Rooks, head of investigations, said the agency was not releasing any more information about the case.
A loyal friend
Brooks described Brabham, his friend of 20 years, as “light-hearted” and “loyal.” He and Brabham grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school and were baptized when children at the same church.
“There was not a situation where anybody could say or do anything about somebody he cared about around him and he wouldn’t immediately stop that person and address it,” Brooks said.
Named after his father, the late Monnie Brabham III, he played basketball in high school. His father, who died in 2013 at age 62, played basketball for Mercer University in the late 1970s, Denmark said.
Redding recalled times she would sit and watch Monnie Brabham IV play basketball with his friends at a basketball court near The Medical Center of Central Georgia.
“Monnie was a very, very respectable man,” Redding said. “We wasn’t together, but he was a great father.”
When she and Brabham split up, they had a mutual understanding and good communication, she said.
“And it was about one thing, Nakya; that was our baby,” Redding said. “The only thing that made me smile is when she (Nakya) picked up that phone and she talked to him and in the time that he spent with her, that’s all that mattered to me.”
Nakya understands that her father has died, Redding said.
“She talks about where her daddy takes her a lot. Like if I go somewhere or we’re at the park, she will say, ‘My daddy took me over there.’ ... I try to keep her mind occupied on good times, good memories,” Redding said.
Denmark has fond memories of Brabham and her two boys when they were children. They’d put on skits, break dance and imitate Michael Jackson, she said.
She also recounted how Brabham earned his nickname, “Rocman.”
As a boy, he’d jump off everything -- including houses and tall trees. He’d often hit his head in the falls, yet escape injury. So, his friends and family started calling him Rocman, Denmark recalled.
“He was just a typical adventurous, curious young boy, and that’s how he got his nickname,” she said. “It stuck with him.”
“He just loved life and loved his family,” Denmark said.
Denmark said the family plans to hold a candlelight vigil for Brabham at 11:58 a.m. Aug. 14, his birthday, at the gas station where he was slain.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.