An Augusta man accused of taking part in a 2014 slaying pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges.
Jeffrey H. Burns, 57, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges of aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and weapon violations in the Nov. 5, 2014, fatal shooting of 20-year-old Javarius Walthour.
Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. accepted the negotiated sentence of three years in prison followed by 22 years on probation. Burns will get credit for the time he has been in jail since his arrest.
Walthour was found lying in the front yard of a Cornell Drive home. He had been shot in the head, Assistant District Attorney Audrey Lewis said. Witnesses described a vehicle leaving the area after gunshots were heard, and they told investigators “Kickball” was driving, Lewis said.
A car fitting the description of the one that fled the scene of the crime was spotted by a Richmond County Sheriff’s deputy the next day in the neighborhood. The vehicle was stopped and the driver, Burns, and Demarco M. Williams were arrested. Officers found a .32-caliber handgun with a bullet in the chamber in the vehicle. That bullet matched shell casings found at the scene of the homicide, Lewis said.
Investigators learned that Walthour had robbed Williams earlier in the day. That night, Williams called Burns for a ride. He told Burns he needed to make a stop on Cornell Drive.
Burns said Wednesday he didn’t know Williams was going to shoot Walthour. Burns said he saw Walthour come out from between two houses toward the road and he saw Williams pull a gun and start shooting.
“I don’t know why this happened,” Burns said. “I didn’t even know Mr. Williams had a weapon.”
Burns didn’t know it was going to happen but what he did afterward created criminal responsibility, said defense attorney Dan Franck. Burns is married with four grown children and an extensive family, Franck said.
After the shooting, Burns left the scene with Williams, and drove him back to the neighborhood the next day when he collected the gun he had stashed after the shooting.
Williams, 38, has maintained a not-guilty plea in the case.
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