Four Hephzibah teenagers charged with fatally shooting an 81-year-old man through his kitchen window are accused of killing him because they believed he had hidden money throughout his home.
At a hearing Friday in which bond was denied for three of the teens, Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris told the court that Johnny Luckey's housekeeper had previously mentioned to her cousin, Artavious Sylvester Feazell, that Luckey "had lots of cash and didn't believe in banks."
It was this conversation, Morris said, that "got the whole ball rolling."
Feazell, 19, along with Joseph L. Jordan, 18, and Tracey Lamont Lindsey, 15, stood in the courtroom -- hands in shackles -- as the district attorney laid out the state's case against them. Their co-defendant, 16-year-old Rufus Khalid-Durand Van, left the courtroom because his attorney was absent and attorneys asked that his bond hearing be continued.
Authorities believe the teens had been plotting to rob Luckey for about a week. Morris said officials do not know whether they planned to kill Luckey.
"The plan was to rob him," he said. "I don't know if it stopped there."
In the week leading up to the robbery, Feazell tried to get a 9 mm handgun and silencer. Jordan was able to acquire a handgun, and on May 6 they drove Van's sister's Mercedes Benz to the victim's home on Hoods Lane.
The suspects parked a short distance away, then Feazell, Lindsey and Jordan -- dressed in dark clothing -- gathered outside the home. Van, the alleged getaway driver, waited in the car.
Much of the authorities' information has come from Jordan, who was pulled over by deputies and questioned about 40 minutes after the slaying, Morris said.
In interviews with police, Jordan has admitted that he was the one who killed Luckey, Morris said.
"Jordan says he shot him through the window and shot him a second time," Morris said.
After the first shot, Morris said, the three teens entered the home. While Jordan stayed with Luckey, who was alive but lay bleeding on the floor, the others rummaged through the house looking for money.
They shoved two lockboxes into a duffle bag and as they prepared to leave, Jordan told police he shot Luckey a second time, Morris said. A neighbor spotted the teens as they fled the home, causing them to drop one of the lockboxes, which they retrieved later.
One box was full of papers and the teens were unable to open the other.
"Mr. Luckey appears to have been murdered and the defendants gained nothing from it," Morris said.
Public defenders for the three suspects described their clients' college aspirations and family ties to the area.
Lindsey moved to Hephzibah with his mother 10 months ago. Home-schooled and in the ninth grade, he hopes to be a doctor or possibly a lawyer one day.
Jordan worked at Fort Gordon, doing custodial work for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Feazell, a recent Cross Creek High School graduate, planned to join the military and had been accepted to two colleges.
After the hearing, red-eyed family members of Luckey gathered outside the courtroom.
Sylvester Bailey, the victim's son-in-law, said the family was glad the teens didn't get bond. He said his wife is now scared to leave the window blinds open at her home.
She thinks Luckey was probably asleep in his chair when the first gunshot was fired.
"We hope they stay there (in jail) for the rest of their lives," Bailey said. "All of them."