The three remaining defendants involved in a 2010 series of robberies that ended in the slaying of a grocery store security guard pleaded guilty to their roles in the crimes Wednesday.
Five teens were charged in connection with armed robberies that occurred 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.
During the robbery at Ingles, the store’s guard, 37-year-old David Casto, was fatally shot.
In April 2012, 21-year-old Nakitta Holmes pleaded guilty to shooting Casto and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In August, a jury convicted Sharod Farran Johnson, 21, of murder as a party to the crime, as well as armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary. He received two life sentences plus 20 years, with the possibility of parole.
Court records show Johnson filed a motion for a new trial a few days after the verdict, but the request hasn’t yet been heard.
The other three men in the case faced Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley separately Wednesday, but none had to answer to murder charges.
Tyrice Adside, 21, and Travarius Jackson, 19, each pleaded to charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary. Adside participated in all three incidents, and Jackson had a role in the robberies at Chevron and Ingles.
Adside will serve 20 years in prison and 20 years on probation for his negotiated plea, which was reduced due to his testimony for the state in the Johnson case.
Jackson was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 20 years on probation.
Neither man was given the possibility of parole, due to the extent of the crimes.
Both initially faced a felony murder charge for the death caused during commission of a felony, armed robbery.
Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn said the state dropped the murder charges as part of the negotiated plea to avoid putting the victims through another trial.
She added that it appears no one knew that Holmes would shoot Casto, though Johnson’s plan to rob the store where he worked perhaps made him more responsible than Adside or Jackson.
However, Penn said all factors were considered in the recommended sentencing so the men receive a “just” consequence for their actions.
Though the state’s circumstantial evidence would have been strong enough to convict Johnson, according to Penn, Adside’s testimony during Johnson’s trial provided direct evidence that strengthened the case.
The state initially offered him a 50-year sentence with 25 to serve, she said, but reduced the recommendation to 40 years in total after Johnson’s trial.
His attorney, James Hodes, said Adside was “different from the others involved in the case” because he helped law enforcement by giving them information that led to the arrests and he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“He did it because he was easily led by people he shouldn’t have been,” Hodes said, adding that Adside tried to minimize the impact of the crimes by emptying bullets from the guns.
Penn countered that whether he tried to lessen the blow, he still participated in crimes that led to a murder.
“In for a penny, in for a pound,” she said.
Adside said he received only a share of the money in the Ingles robbery, and his portion was about $5,000.
Bagley responded: “That’s small pay for what you’re facing today, isn’t it?”
He added that Adside’s “broken-hearted” parents were also victims in the case, as they and several of his family members tearfully watched the proceedings.
Jackson, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, has matured greatly since then and shown much remorse, said his attorney, Louis Turchiarelli.
“Maybe when he gets done [in prison] after 22 years, he can redeem himself,” Turchiarelli said.
Jackson recounted the story of the Ingles robbery, as Adside had previously done in trial, stating that Johnson let them in the back door and they waited in a cooler.
When Johnson, Casto and the store manager walked to the back, the three held them at gunpoint and took Casto’s gun.
While the teens were up front robbing the store, Holmes walked to the back and shot Casto execution-style with the guard’s own 9mm in a store freezer.
Jackson said he and Adside learned of the shooting when they returned to the car.
Jackson’s story differed from Adside’s only in that he said the handgun and shotgun they carried into the store were loaded.
Adside said the others probably did think the guns were loaded, as he’d taken the bullets out before he picked them up in the car.
Those two guns were also used in the Waffle House and Chevron robberies.
In the Waffle House robbery, Adside and Johnson reportedly held two employees at gunpoint and Darren Slayton drove the getaway car.
At Chevron, Adside drove, while Holmes, Jackson, Johnson and Slayton held up the clerk.
Slayton, 22, who was not involved in the Ingles robbery, pleaded to two counts of armed robbery and one count of aggravated assault.
Slayton received a 15-year sentence, with 10 to be served in prison and the remainder on probation.
His story wavered from his interviews with law enforcement, attorneys and before the judge. However, he did admit involvement in the crimes.
“What I did was wrong, I know it,” said Slayton, adding that he hopes to use his sentence to become a better person.