Crime

Two plead guilty in Macon beating that led to 2013 Zodiac Lounge slaying

Members of Macon’s Mafia street gang gathered at a member’s house to drink alcohol and celebrate the Fourth of July nearly two years ago.

They then agreed to meet at Scarlett Carsons, a nightclub located just west of Interstate 475 off Mercer University Drive.

After leaving the club early on July 5, 2013, they went to the Zodiac Lounge, an after-hours night spot where club-goers gather after other places close down.

Jimmy Lee Scott III and Kiyo Latrice Johnson, both 32, pleaded guilty Friday to their part in the gang beating of then-21-year-old Deion Davis at the Zodiac Lounge that led to him being shot eight times.

Jamonni Bland, 17, was fatally shot five times at close range in a parking deck outside the club.

A security guard saw 32-year-old Andre Bonner firing at Bland, said prosecutor Sandra Matson.

The guard fired at Bonner, striking him in the neck, trying to protect Bland, she said.

Bonner, 29-year-old John Michael Hollingshed Jr., and 29-year-old Miranda Pettiway are charged with murder in the case.

Arthur Freeman III, 29, Johnifer D. Barnwell, 28, Percy Welch Jr., 39, and Kewaunis Destavez King, 25, also are accused of participating in the beating.

A trial is set for April 13 for the remaining defendants in the case.

During Friday’s hearing, Scott admitted he beat Davis with a pool stick multiple times. Johnson admitted she struck him with a beer bottle.

Each pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and a count of violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act by participating in the fight to maintain or elevate their status in the Mafia gang.

Johnson, who doesn’t have a prior felony record, was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by eight years on probation.

Scott, who also was charged with violating his probation, was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by seven years on probation.

During her sentencing, Johnson asked the judge to give her a week to make arrangements for the care of her two children before going to prison.

Judge Howard Simms refused the request and ordered that she be taken to jail after the hearing.

Before issuing a sentence, Simms asked her to guess how many other people’s children have been killed, robbed or maimed by the Mafia gang.

Johnson replied that she didn’t know.

“I don’t participate in all that,” she said.

Simms held up a photo submitted as evidence that shows Johnson “throwing a gang sign” and said, “Yes, you do.”

Gangs “are just a cancer on this community,” Simms said. “The tragic part of it is that you don’t seem to care.”

TROUBLE INSIDE THE CLUB

The Zodiac Lounge is located in the basement of the Riverview Event Center near Walnut Street and Broadway in downtown Macon. It’s located about two blocks from the Bibb County Courthouse.

During Friday’s hearing, Matson described how gang members “pummeled” Davis, shot him and fatally shot Bland:

In the wee hours of July 5, 2013, Davis was at the club with some of his friends.

By the time the group of Mafia members arrived, he was “quite intoxicated.”

Video surveillance shows the gang members arrive as a group and security guards check them for weapons.

A guard found a gun in the waistband of Hollingshed’s pants and told him he couldn’t take the gun inside. Freeman, one of Hollingshed’s alleged fellow gang members, tried to convince the guard to allow Hollingshed to take the gun inside, but the guard insisted he couldn’t.

Inside, a “quite intoxicated” Davis stumbled into the Mafia group and got too close to Freeman, invading his personal space.

Freeman allegedly felt Davis was disrespecting him. Words were exchanged, and Freeman punched Davis.

Then other gang members “jumped in,” beating Davis.

The beating continued, rolling around the perimeter of a pool table and the back of the club until several security guards broke it up.

With the security guards away from their regular posts, authorities contend, Hollingshed and Barnwell retrieved the gun Hollingshed had earlier, went back inside, and Hollingshed fired shots at Davis.

The crowd of 150 to 200 people, including Davis, made a “mad dash for the door.”

Davis stumbled at the stairs to the underground parking deck and Hollingshed shot him as he was “helpless on the floor.”

Bonner was dropped off at a local hospital for treatment of his gunshot wound. Gang members helped Scott, who also was shot, get care without going to a hospital.

THE ARRESTS

Matson said the gang members also made plans to leave town.

One was later apprehended in Columbus. Two others were arrested in West Virginia.

Bibb County sheriff’s Sgt. Cedric Penson said West Virginia is a known hideout for Mafia members sought for Macon crimes.

Scott was arrested at the home of a longtime Macon Mafia member in Austell, west of Atlanta, Penson said.

Scott was wearing a black hat with the word “made” on the side. Penson explained that a Mafia member who is “made” is a person in the “upper echelon” of the gang.

Scott also was wearing a gray sports jersey with the numbers 3 and 1.

In Mafia gang lingo, the numerals are significant when matched with letters of the alphabet. When the number three is matched with the third letter of the alphabet, “C,” and one is matched with “A,” 31 represents the phrase “Crip assassin,” Penson said.

The Crips and Mafia gangs are rivals, he said.

The jersey also bore the name of a killed Mafia member as a form of respect, Penson said.

During Friday’s hearing, Matson said authorities think Bland was a Crips member.

Court records show Bland was involved in a May 31, 2013, fight at The Hole Thing Pool Hall on Shurling Drive with another man and Mafia members.

The other man was driving on Gray Highway when he alleges he saw Bonner’s white Cadillac pull up beside him. People inside fired guns at him, according to the records.

‘I MADE A BAD CHOICE’

Davis, the man who was beaten in the attack, sat on the second row in the courtroom during both plea hearings Friday.

Although he didn’t speak, he underwent multiple surgeries and is lucky to be alive, Matson said.

As a result of one injury -- the shattering of his arm -- a metal plate continually gets infected. Friday, he still had an open and bandaged wound left from his beating and shooting nearly two years ago, she said.

“He has to deal with his injuries every day,” Matson said. “He hasn’t been able to work since then.”

In Johnson’s defense, her lawyer told the judge she turned herself in to authorities and has never denied her gang membership.

Later, when speaking to the judge, Johnson said she grew up in a neighborhood controlled by the Mafia and became a member because of it.

During his hearing, Scott told Simms, “I made a bad choice.”

The judge replied, “You made a lot of bad choices.”

Earlier in the hearing, Matson had read a list of Scott’s prior felony convictions -- possession of cocaine in 2003, an aggravated assault and gang offense in 2009.

“I want to accept responsibility for what I did,” Scott told Simms. “I’m hopeful I can get my life on track.”

He said he didn’t know anyone was going to be shot that morning.

Simms responded, “If this wasn’t tragic, that would be funny.”

He pointed out Scott’s past convictions.

If Scott hadn’t accepted a plea deal and had been convicted at trial, Simms said. “I would have done everything in my power to see to it that you never breathed free air again.”

He warned Scott against committing a new gang offense when he’s released from prison.

“When you get out of prison, I’ll still be here,” he said. “I’m serious.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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