A judge has sentenced to prison three men linked to a 2012 home invasion in which a fourth perpetrator was fatally shot by a 15-year-old defending his family.
Leonard Jamal Walton, 19, of Martinez, Jose Lopez-Gamero, 22, of Evans, and Edward Albert Brown III, 21, of Augusta, were charged with murder, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Walton pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal attempt to commit armed robbery at a Thursday sentencing hearing as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis sentenced him to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation. He also required Walton to get his GED diploma.
“I apologize to everyone for my actions, for going along with this plan,” Walton said at the hearing. “I’m not a bad person. I’m not violent. I didn’t mean for anyone to be hurt or anybody’s life to be taken away.”
On Tuesday, Lopez-Gamero and Brown pleaded guilty to criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and were sentenced to seven years in prison followed by eight years on probation.
The men – along with Justin Anthony Stephens, 19 – attempted to rob Bruce Barrett on Feb. 29, 2012, because they believed he had money on hand that he used for buying used video games.
“The plan was to rob him,” Assistant District Attorney Justin Jones said. “They knew he had cash to pay for used video games. ... The plan was to come to the door, snatch the cash and leave.”
Barrett answered the door without any money, so Walton and Stephens forced their way into the apartment and struggled with him. Barrett’s 15-year-old son, Jacob, saw the men fighting, got his father’s .22-caliber rifle from a bedroom and shot Stephens twice. Stephens died just outside the front door.
“That night, (Jacob) was forced to defend his family,” Barrett’s wife, Kathleen, said at the hearing. “My son went into action. ... That night, my son lost part of his innocence.”
Walton ran away. After the shots, Brown got into a car driven by Lopez-Gamero and they went to a nearby convenience store. Walton ran out of the woods near the apartment and joined them. Authorities found Walton’s DNA on a ski mask found near the scene.