Local News

June 20, 2014

Police: All three now in custody in drug deal murder (Updated 8:50 p.m.)

16-year-old being treated as adult

All three suspects in what police are calling the murder of a 20-year-old following a botched drug deal are now in police custody after 17-year-old Tywon Jay Henderson surrendered at the Dalton Police Services Center Friday evening.

Police say Henderson, of 1300 Autumn Court, was with Endy Becerra, 16, of 622 Cockburn St., and Marquis Dequan Tanner, 20, of 110 Mallory Drive, during an anticipated drug deal Wednesday night that led to the shooting death of Abel Carmona of 1408 Nolan Road. All three suspects are charged with murder. Becerra and Tanner were arrested Thursday and face bond hearings Tuesday morning before Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris.

Police arrested Tanner shortly before midnight Thursday on a murder warrant. Investigators say he was part of the attempted drug deal that preceded the shooting death of Carmona in the parking lot of an apartment complex at 214 N. Easterling St.

Earlier Thursday, police arrested Becerra and charged him with murder.

Tanner and Becerra had first appearance hearings Friday afternoon. Magistrate Judge Gayle Gazaway said she handled Tanner’s. Because Becerra is housed at the Regional Youth Detention Center, Chief Magistrate Haynes Townsend went there for Becerra’s first appearance. Because the charges against both carry the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty, Magistrate Court could not set a bond. That must be handled by Superior Court.

As to whether a death penalty prosecution is possible, District Attorney Bert Poston said, “I will review this case as I review all others, once the investigation is complete and I have all of the information. There are two steps to that process, the first being to determine whether the case qualifies for death penalty consideration under Georgia law. Not all murder cases qualify. If the case legally qualifies, then we will make a decision after consulting with the victim’s family and with the Dalton Police Department. Normally that decision is made between indictment and arraignment.”

Asked whether Becerra will be tried as an adult, Poston said, “I can ... state that under Georgia law, when a juvenile over the age of 12 is charged with murder, original jurisdiction vests with the Superior Court. The case may then be transferred to Juvenile Court at the discretion of the district attorney prior to indictment or by the Superior Court judge after indictment and after a hearing if the judge makes certain factual determinations. Otherwise, the case remains in Superior Court.

“No decisions have been made in that regard in this particular case so for the time being, Becerra will be treated as an adult defendant except that he will be housed at the Regional Youth Detention Center instead of at the county jail as is required by law.”

Tanner was arrested when he showed up at the Cliffs apartments at 816 Shugart Road, police said in a press release. Officers were conducting surveillance there because Tanner was known to frequent that location. The officers stopped a Nissan Pathfinder that matched the description of the vehicle in which Tanner was reportedly traveling. Tanner was taken into custody without incident.

Investigators believe Carmona went to the apartment complex to buy marijuana and met with the three men. “Something went wrong during the meeting and Carmona was shot and killed,” the press release stated. The person who shot Carmona has not been identified by investigators.

Detectives determined Carmona went to the apartment complex with two friends, Roberto Lopez and Marcus Soto, “in order to buy a large quantity of marijuana,” police spokesman Bruce Frazier said.

At about 11:40 Wednesday night, officers were dispatched on a shooting call to Easterling Street. When they arrived they found Carmona lying on the ground in the parking lot of the apartment complex.

Witnesses told officers the shooter fled in a small, dark-colored sedan. Carmona was being attended to by Lopez and Soto, who were trying to stop his bleeding from a gunshot wound to his chest. Carmona was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at Hamilton Medical Center.

Lopez, 20, of 124 Montrose Way, was arrested after investigators determined he lied to them during his interview. He was still in the county jail as of Friday evening.

Detectives worked throughout the night and into the day Thursday with the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and investigators with the Chatsworth Police Department and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, which includes officers from the Murray County and Whitfield County Sheriff’s Offices and the Calhoun Police Department. Information developed through the course of the investigation led detectives to Becerra.


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