'Shot one time in the chest,' prosecutor says of fatal shot
His shotgun nicknamed Sheila delivered a fatal shot to the chest in a gang-ordered hit in 2014 in which the wrong man was killed.
That’s according to Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters, who detailed the prosecution’s case against Michael Montreal Gooden, 24, of Atlanta, at a hearing Tuesday in Houston County Superior Court.
Gooden pleaded guilty at the hearing to malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Judge G.E. “Bo” Adams sentenced Gooden to life with the possibility of parole plus five years for the weapons conviction — part of a negotiated plea agreement that took the prosecution’s notice to seek the death penalty off the table.
Monnie Joseph Brabham IV, 32, was shot and killed minutes before noon Jan. 23, 2014 at the pumps of Murphy USA near the busy super Wal-Mart off Russell Parkway in Warner Robins.
Gooden was involved in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father a few months after the Warner Robins killing. He was a member of One Eight Trey, a set of the Bloods gang.
The gang was led by Kelvin Melton, who allegedly orchestrated both the Warner Robins killing and the North Carolina kidnapping while in prison through cellphones smuggled into the facility, Winters told the judge Tuesday. Melton has not been charged in the Warner Robins killing. He is serving multiple life sentences in the North Carolina kidnapping.
In the Warner Robins killing, DeWayne Eric Seymore told authorities that LaJerrius Barfield was the intended target of a planned kidnapping, torture, if necessary, and ultimate killing, Winters said. Seymore was originally charged in the Brabham slaying, but the charges were dismissed.
Brabham, who was not affiliated with any gang, grew up with Barfield in Macon, and on the day of Brabham’s death, he was driving Barfield around to make some extra money. Brabham had agreed to drive Barfield to Warner Robins and later to Atlanta.
Melton allegedly dispatched gang members down from Atlanta to the Warner Robins home of fellow gang member Tianna Danet Maynard. The plan was to lure Barfield to her home, where tarp had been put down in the floor of a bathroom, according to the prosecution.
Clifton James Roberts testified at last week’s trial of Deondray Darnell Yarn that the tarp was in case Barfield put up a fight or they needed to torture Barfield to extract information. The gang members lay in wait for Barfield to arrive. Barfield testified at Yarn’s trial that something didn’t feel right and that he and Brabham decided not to go inside.
Brabham and Barfield went next through the drive-thru at Zaxby’s and then to get gas at the adjacent Murphy’s USA on Booth Road. The gang followed in Roberts’ Chevy Tahoe.
While Brabham was pumping gas, Gooden and Yarn jumped out of the backseat of the Tahoe and came up behind Brabham.
Brabham was shot in a brief struggle with Gooden, who testified at Yarn’s trial that the shotgun went off when Brabham reached for the handle.
Yarn fired at Barfield as he ran away. Barfield tripped and fell as he ran, with gang members thinking he’d been killed also. All of the gang members were promoted after the killing, according to testimony at Yarn’s trial.
Yarn was the only one who was convicted at trial. Gooden, Roberts and Maynard all pleaded guilty to murder and received life sentences with the possibility of parole as part of plea deals. The sentences run at the same time as their sentences for the North Carolina kidnapping.
Ameshia Cartis Cosby pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and violation of the street gang act and received a 10-year prison sentence. Cosby and Yarn were not implicated in the North Carolina kidnapping. Yarn, who is expected to be sentenced Thursday in the Warner Robins killing, faces life either with or without the possibility of parole.