A gold chain. A deadly shot. Macon teens plead guilty in ‘senseless’ killing of 17-year-old

A pair of Macon teenagers pleaded guilty this week to their roles in the death of another teen who was shot and killed last September when an armed robbery took a deadly turn.

A Bibb prosecutor said Tuesday there was no sensible reason behind the death of 17-year-old Pedro Garcia Jr. Tajah Coleman — the one with the gun who admitted to shooting and killing Garcia — wanted Garcia’s cash, his marijuana or his gold necklace.

On the eve of his murder trial that was set to begin Tuesday in Bibb County Superior Court, Coleman, 18, pleaded guilty to felony murder. He was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Coleman must serve 30 years in prison before he is eligible to seek release.

His co-defendant, Ja’Reyse D. Pollard, 18, pleaded guilty Monday to armed robbery in the case and was expected to testify against Coleman. Pollard faces up to 20 years behind bars when he is sentenced.

Garcia’s shooting death was the city’s 32nd homicide last year. It happened shortly before midnight on Sept. 17 on Villa Crest Avenue, a side street across Houston Avenue from the Pendleton Homes housing project.

Garcia, who was living on Villa Crest, had just gotten off work at Wendy’s and had walked down to the street’s intersection with Houston Avenue at the entrance to the housing project. People there — some of whom he knew, including Pollard — were hanging out across from C’s Mini Mart.

“Words were exchanged” between Coleman and Garcia, Bibb prosecutor Sandra Matson said Monday at Pollard’s plea hearing. The dispute began, she said, when Garcia warned another person there not to let some of the others ride a bicycle because they’d take it.

According to Matson, Coleman “kind of smarted off to Mr. Garcia, ‘Well, we can fight.’”

Garcia seemed to shrug off the offer, suggesting that the 5-foot-6, 110-pound Coleman was too little to tangle with Garcia.

When Garcia left and went over to C’s Mini Mart to buy a cigarette, authorities say Coleman followed and, Matson said, “mouthed off” about Garcia being a Crip because Coleman was associated with the Bloods street gang.

Matson said that after a while Coleman left, got a pistol from Pollard and then, with others including Pollard in tow, followed Garcia as he made his way home from the store.

Coleman then “confronted Pedro Garcia,” Matson said, adding that Coleman pulled the gun and told Garcia to “give him what he had.”

Garcia is said to have told Coleman he had nothing with him, that his cash and other valuables were at his house.

A witness said Coleman then grabbed the gold necklace around Garcia’s neck, Matson said.

“They began to tussle,” the prosecutor said, and when they were separated Coleman fired a single fatal shot into Garcia’s chest. The bullet pierced one of Garcia’s lungs.

Before Coleman was sentenced Tuesday, Garcia’s mother, Brenda Cardenas, stood before Judge Howard Z. Simms and said her son didn’t have to die over “something so senseless.”

Joe Kovac Jr. covers crime and courts for The Telegraph with an eye for human-interest stories. A Warner Robins native, he joined the paper in 1991 after graduating from the University of Georgia.