LUMBERTON — Two people have pleaded guilty in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Fairmont High School student Daquan Stephens, doing so just as jury selection began for the trial.
Jerod Kutree McNeill pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder on Tuesday, and Bobby Deshawn Jones pleaded guilty Monday to being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder, according to District Attorney Johnson Britt.
Stephens was shot and killed on March 22, 2013, while playing basketball at Calvin Haggin Park in Fairmont. Officers said at the time that McNeill approached Stephens on the basketball court, spoke with Stephens and shot him. McNeill, 19, and Jones, 23, were each arrested about two weeks after Stephens’ death.
“Of the two, [Jones’] was the most difficult case to prove because he was the non-shooter,” Britt said.
Britt said he wasn’t surprised McNeill and Jones accepted plea bargains. Both had been offered pleas before jury selection began for their trial Monday.
Jones appeared in court a few weeks ago and expressed an intent to plead guilty, Britt said. He entered the plea Monday and was sentenced to a minimum of eight years and eight months, and a maximum of 11 years and five months in prison.
Jury selection resumed today and when the court recessed around 11 a.m., McNeill’s attorney told Britt that McNeill would agree to plead guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
McNeill will serve his life sentence after he completes a sentence he is currently serving for robbery with a dangerous weapon committed in 2011 in Hoke County. He was convicted in that case in October 2014 and sentenced to a maximum term of four years and 11 months in prison.
McNeill and Jones’ were the final cases pending in connection with Stephens’ death. Julius Laverne Rogers and Natasha Owens previously pleaded guilty to being accessories after the fact to murder for hiding the car Stephens’ killers drove from the park, Britt said. Rogers received a prayer for judgment and a conviction was not recorded. Shinaha Grissett, who drove the car, was sentenced to probation for being an accessory after the fact to murder.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.