A 20-year-old Buford man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing a security guard in a 2010 armed robbery at a Forsyth County grocery store.
Nakitta Holmes pleaded guilty Friday to one count each of malice murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of armed robbery.
Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley sentenced Holmes to life without parole.
The state withdrew its notice of intent to seek the death penalty as a result of the negotiated plea, said Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn.
Penn called the resolution of the case “fair and just.”
As a condition of his plea, Holmes will also have to testify against his co-defendants.
Holmes admitted to fatally shooting 37-year-old security guard David Casto of Winder on Sept. 5, 2010, during a late night armed robbery at Ingles on Canton Road.
Sharod Johnson and Tyrice Kendall Adside, both of Forsyth County, and Tavarius Jackson of Buford have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of armed robbery and felony murder and one count each of aggravated assault and murder. They remain in custody awaiting trial.
Friday in Bagley’s courtroom, Holmes took responsibility for his actions.
“I just want everybody to know that I’m sorry,” said Holmes, who was 19 at the time of the crime.
Bagley walked Holmes through the series of events, in which Holmes said Casto had been bound by duct tape and locked in the freezer.
Holmes admitted he shot Casto with the guard’s gun execution style, while the three others involved were at the front of the store. He said he didn’t know why he did it.
Joseph Romond, one of Holmes’ two appointed attorneys, said they hope the plea will “begin the healing process for the Casto family.”
He added that he “can see the glimmer of humanity [Holmes] has left inside of him, despite the awful decision he made.”
Romond said Holmes had merely “survived” as a child, passed around among family while his mother was in and out of jail due to drug problems.
“We agree that this is a fair sentence given Mr. Holmes’ age and his background,” Romond said.
Bagley said people may have different opinions on whether life or death is a more severe penalty in this case.
“He’s going to have to live every day with the knowledge of what he’s done,” Bagley said.
“He probably will live a long life in prison and every day he’ll be reminded of that fateful evening where he decided he was going to take the life of David Casto in cold-blooded murder with no feeling, thought or compassion — the essence of evil.
“I cannot think of a much more heinous crime than what I’ve heard here today.”