Man refuses to testify against former co-defendant

Within a few days of being brought back to Augusta to testify in the murder trial of a former co-defendant, Deandre Brown decided he wasn’t going to cooperate on Tuesday after all.

Although Brown said he knew what could happen – that he could be re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of ever being paroled – Brown insisted he wouldn’t testify against Willie Hooper.

“I’m done talking,” Brown said to Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers.

With the prosecution’s case having imploded, Myers again offered Hooper a deal, this time for eight years in prison followed by five years probation.

Hooper, 24, who had pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder and armed robbery, took the deal. He pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter, attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault.

In the early morning hours of March 29, 2012, Hooper joined Brown, 23, and Ronny Bonner, 21, in a plan to rob Jeremy Alford, a man whom Bonner had been buying marijuana from for several months.

Before Hooper took the deal and ended his trial, Alford testified Tuesday that Bonner had called several times between 1 and 3 a.m. about coming to buy marijuana. In the last call, Bonner said he was at Alford’s front door. When Alford opened the door, three armed men rushed in, Alford testified.

“They put guns to my head and told me to get on the ground,” Alford said. Alford’s brother, James Wright, popped up from his bed – set up in the nearby dining room – when the men started yelling for him to give them money, and that’s when the shooting started, according to Alford’s testimony.

As Wright ran down the hall to try to escape, the masked man armed with what looked like an assault rifle chased after him, firing 10 to 20 shots, Alford testified.
Wright made it out of the house, but he was shot in the arm. Alford’s best friend, Charlie Jones III, who was in a back bedroom, never made it out of bed. The 20-year-old died from his wounds at the house.

Bonner was convicted at trial and sentenced to life in prison, plus 15 years.

Because Brown reneged on the plea agreement, Myers said he would file a motion seeking to have Brown re-sentenced. He had been serving life in prison with the possibility of parole.

At the time of Jones’ murder, Hooper had been out of prison less than a year. When he was 17 years old, Hooper and four teens robbed two pizza delivery employees and a Chinese restaurant delivery man.

Hooper still has 13 years of probation remaining on that sentence.

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