Macon – Jurors deliberated less than two hours Tuesday before finding two men guilty in the 2015 murder of 23-year-old Vernard Mays, a Bibb County Sheriff’s Office warrants clerk.
Curtis Dewayne Jackson, 25, and Addonis Xavier Rhodes, 19, each were convicted of malice murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Both men were sentenced to the maximum sentence for their crimes. Jackson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Due to his age at the time of the killing, Rhodes wasn’t eligible for life without the possibility of parole. Instead, he received a life sentence and must serve 30 years before he’s eligible for release.
The trial for Jackson and Rhodes began Sept. 11.
Prosecutors Jason Knowles and Jason Martin presented evidence during the more than week-long trial showing:
There was a car crash near the intersection of Second and Elm streets near Eisenhower Parkway on Oct. 27, 2015. The crash site was also near the house where Mays lived with his mother, a 911 dispatcher.
A member of the Crips street gang involved in the crash hid a gun in Mays’ yard and arranged for another gang member to come get it. The gun was retrieved soon thereafter unbeknownst to Jackson who later went to the house searching for the gun.
Unable to find the gun in the yard, Jackson tried to talk with Mays’ mother. She wouldn’t open the door and Jackson became angry. Mays’ mother called her son and he returned home by the time Jackson knocked on the door a second time – this time with Rhodes and other armed men with him.
Mays opened the door to talk with Jackson and said he didn’t know anything about the gun. Jackson signaled Rhodes who fired a shot toward Mays. Other men in the yard also started shooting.
Mays, fatally shot, retreated inside the house and his mother barricaded them in a bedroom. The guns kept firing as she called 911.
Three other men – 22-year-old Jadarien Shamar Flowers, 19-year-old Drayson Walter McDonald and 22-year-old Michael Dewayne Hardy Jr. – have pleaded guilty for their part in the shooting. They each testified during the trial for Jackson and Rhodes.
Evidence was presented that Rhodes and McDonald were members of the 10-12 street gang. By Jackson bringing them with him to retrieve the gun, he too was associated with the gang.
Testimony showed the area where Rhodes was standing matched the location where authorities discovered a .40-caliber shell casing. An autopsy determined Mays’ fatal wound was inflicted by a .40-caliber bullet.
In his closing argument to jurors, Martin asked them to send a message that the community won’t tolerate gang violence or the 32 homicides that have struck the city so far this year.
Speaking after Tuesday’s guilty verdict, District Attorney David Cooke said, “Sooner or later, gang members will learn that the path they’re on leads only to prison or the grave. We will not rest until every one of them is held accountable.”
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Contact: Amy Leigh Womack