Macon – A Macon man was sentenced to life in prison followed by an additional 20 years Tuesday in the 2017 shooting death of a 16-year-old killed while walking to school.
Jury selection was held Monday in the trial for Wesley Jamison Holt, 21. Holt pleaded guilty to malice murder and violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act Tuesday morning after the first witness’s testimony concluded.
If the case had continued through trial, prosecutors Ben Conkling and Jonathan Gordon would have presented evidence showing:
Jayvon Sherman was walking along Beech Avenue on his way to Central High School on the morning of Oct. 19, 2017, when he was fatally shot.
Moments earlier, another student was walking to school along the same route when a man on a bicycle approached him and pointed a gun at his head. The student was wearing a hooded shirt with the hood over his head. After being approached, he removed the hood and the gunman recognized him as a friend from growing up on the same street. The gunman apologized and the student continued walking toward school. Testifying in court on Tuesday, the student identified the gunman as Holt, a member of the Mafia street gang that he’d known for years.
The student testified that soon after he’d walked away he heard several gunshots behind him. He turned around and saw that another boy had been shot. Afraid, he continued walking to school. During school that day, he received a cell phone call from Holt who told him not to tell police about what he saw.
An investigation later led Bibb County deputies to search Holt’s home. They found a shell casing there that matched shell casings left behind on Beech Avenue. The shell casings also matched a silver and black pistol described by the student eyewitness to Sherman’s shooting. Jurors saw a Facebook profile photo of Holt holding the gun.
Holt was charged with murder Oct. 31, 2017.
Between March and July of 2018, Bibb County Sheriff’s Office investigators had a wiretap that allowed them to hear inmates’ conversations on illegal cell phones in the Bibb County jail. In those calls, an inmate who identified himself as Wesley and “Wes Mob,” talked about the eyewitness student and his desire that the student not testify. He made plans with other gang members free in the community to intimidate the student from testifying if they discovered his location.
The student testified he’d been contacted less than two weeks before the trial began by the defendant’s brother who pressured him not to testify. In a recorded Bibb County jail phone conversation Sept. 6, Holt’s brother told him that he’d “talked to God” and said “you’re good man … your charges gonna be dropped.” The intimidation attempt was also referenced in a Sept. 8 recorded call between the brothers.
The gang count to which Holt pled guilty charged him with trying to get a female to communicate the eyewitness’s location to fellow gang members.
Speaking after the sentencing Tuesday, District Attorney David Cooke said, “Any gang member who thinks they can kill innocents and threaten witnesses with impunity should ask Mr. Holt about his life plus 20 sentence.
“Since we began our anti-gang initiative six years ago we’ve sent more than 140 violent gang members to prison. Mr. Holt won’t be the last,” Cooke said. “We hope our efforts in juvenile justice reform and intervention will reduce the number of young people joining gangs. In the meantime, we’re going to send away any of them that threaten the safety of our community.”
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Contact: Amy Leigh Womack