Man pleads guilty for lying to police in Columbia County shooting

An Augusta teen will be released from jail after he pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to police about a March shooting at the Belair Conference Center.

Deandre Tyrell Jones, 19, pleaded guilty to obstruction of police, a misdemeanor, at a sentencing hearing in Columbia County. Superior Court Judge Michael Annis sentenced Jones to the seven months he’s already served in the Columbia County Detention Center since his March arrest. He also has to serve five months on probation.

Jones is one of four people charged with making false statements to police regarding the March 19 shooting death of James Sterling Gillette Jr.

Gillette, an employee of the Belair Conference Center, was shot during a 16th birthday party for a grandchild of the late entertainer James Brown.

Nearly 200 people showed up to the party, and fights drove the crowd into the parking lot of the Jimmie Dyess Parkway facility.

After shots were fired, Gillette was struck by a bullet as he tried to lead guests back inside, authorities said.

Jones initially lied to police about who he had arrived with and when he left. During a second interview with Columbia County sheriff’s Investigator Randall Chambers, Jones admitted his deceit.

“I learned he was with the party who is allegedly responsible for the shooting,” Chambers said at the hearing.

Jones was arrested March 29 and was held in the jail without bond.

Johndrick Lors Levert Barnes, 20, of Augusta, is charged with murder in connection with the shooting.

A 16-year-old, whose name was not released because of his age, was sentenced in July in Juvenile Court. Jordan Dashawn Harrison, 18; Brandon Devon Berry, 18; and Morreio Demetrius Carswell, 18, are also charged with making false statements and are still awaiting trial.

“Mr. Jones was terrified of the repercussions on his life for providing that information,” Jones’ attorney, Penelope Donkar, said of why her client lied to police.

As a condition of his probation, Jones is required to testify truthfully if called for the trials of any others charged in connection to the shooting.

“Whatever information you’ve got, please tell it because we need justice,” Nancy Stewart, Gillette’s mother, said at the hearing.

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