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Closing arguments in murder trial Monday

Man charged in security guard’s slaying

POSTED: August 18, 2013 12:30 a.m.
 

Both sides rested Friday afternoon in the trial of a 21-year-old Forsyth County man accused of a series of armed robberies in 2010, the last of which led to the death of a security guard at Ingles.

Sharod Farran Johnson faces four counts of armed robbery, two counts each of felony murder and aggravated assault, and one count each of burglary and murder.

The charges stem from armed robberies on: Aug. 25, 2010, at the Waffle House on Bethelview Road; Aug. 26, 2010, at the Chevron on Buford Highway at James Burgess Road; and Sept. 5, 2010, at Ingles on Canton Road, where Johnson worked as a cashier at the time.

Johnson opted not to testify in his trial, and the defense called no witnesses.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday morning in Forsyth County Superior Court, followed by jury deliberation and a possible verdict.

Testimony during the trial was consistent that Nakitta Holmes, 21, of Buford, shot and killed 37-year-old security guard David Casto during the Ingles robbery.

Holmes, 18 at the time of the slaying, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to shooting Casto and received life in prison without parole.

Johnson and two of his co-defendants were charged with felony murder for their alleged participation in the felony crime of armed robbery that led to a death.

Tyrice Kendall Adside, 21, and Tavarius Jackson, 19, face the same charges for involvement in the Ingles robbery, but have not yet been tried.

Darren Jerrard Slayton, 21, has been charged with aggravated assault and armed robbery for participating in the incidents at Waffle House and Chevron.

On Friday, Adside testified as a condition of a plea deal he reportedly agreed to Monday with the state for a sentence of 50 years, with 25 to serve.

He could otherwise be facing three life sentences, plus 60 years for all the charges.

Holmes, now 21, was expected to testify in the possible trials of his four co-defendants in the robberies.

However, he refused to do so during Johnson’s trial, in violation of his plea agreement, which “puts the death penalty back on the table,” said District Attorney Penny Penn.

Adside entered and left the courtroom twice before finally deciding to testify. He recounted his version of events for the jury because he said he wanted “to put everybody at rest for this whole case.”

“Something happened to somebody that wasn’t supposed to happen,” Adside said. “The guard wasn’t supposed to die.”

Adside testified that he and Johnson entered the Waffle House, each with an unloaded gun, and took about $300 while Slayton waited in Johnson’s car.

He said the other four co-defendants robbed the Chevron near his Forsyth County home with the same unloaded shotgun and 40-caliber Glock, while he waited in the getaway car.

According to Adside, Johnson proposed the robbery at Ingles on Sept. 5, 2010, stating it would be easy since the security cameras didn’t work, and they could get more than $20,000.

They knew that Casto carried a gun, so they planned to point their guns at him so he would surrender and then they could tie him up.

Adside heard Holmes make a comment that he’d have to “dome-check the guard” if he tried to resist, but Adside said he convinced him to leave the bullets out of the guns, like they had done before.

According to Adside, Johnson let him, Holmes and Jackson in through the back door of the store that night. The three waited in a meat freezer until it got too cold, then moved to the milk cooler.

About 11 p.m., they jumped out with guns drawn and surprised Casto, Johnson and the manager, who were the only people in the store.

Adside testified that they removed Casto’s gun and his bulletproof vest before duct-taping his face and wrists.

Holmes took the guard’s gun and headed to the front of the store with Jackson, leaving Adside behind with Casto.

Adside recalled hearing a lot of yelling, so he walked Casto into the meat freezer and closed the door so he could go up front.

He also told the store manager to get the combination for the safe out of an office, which she did.

She opened the safe while someone was counting down until they would shoot her, according to testimony from Forsyth County Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Garrison, who interviewed the manager.

Adside said Holmes wasn’t at the front of the store at that time, and when he came back, he said something to Johnson.

The three men then headed to the back of the store again, where they duct taped the store manager. Johnson duct-taped himself and the two went in the freezer.

Adside testified that it wasn’t until he and Jackson were in the car that they learned Holmes had killed the security guard with his own gun.

Asked why, Adside said Holmes told them “he wanted a body.” He and Jackson didn’t want to discuss the topic further.

Arrests in the case were made just a few days after the robbery and slaying.

Investigators became suspicious of Johnson’s involvement, due to his unusually calm demeanor and conflicts while repeating his story, according to Garrison.

He said Johnson kept changing the time frame when he reportedly noticed the security bar that was supposed to block the back doors to the Ingles had been removed.

Johnson told him that after he noticed the bar out of place, he told the store manager. They went together to tell Casto, and the three were headed to put the security bar back when the three men jumped out of the cooler.

 

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