By Ed Brock
Clayton County police have arrested four teens in connection with the weekend shooting death of a 14-year-old girl.
Quadarrion Nelson, 18, of Morrow and 15-year-old Ricardo Pinder of Forest Park have been charged with murder and aggravated assault in connection with the case, Clayton County Police Department Capt. Jeff Turner said.
Roderick Lamar Didone, 17, of Forest Park was charged with false report of a crime and Devin Brandon Mashburn of Morrow, also 17, was charged with tampering with evidence. Each was arrested at their home at about 6:30 p.m. Monday.
On Friday Crystal Williams, a freshman at Forest Park High School, was at a "Sweet 16" birthday party for another girl at a house on Conley Drive when several fights broke out inside the home. When the hostess and her mother began sending the party-goers outside somebody began shooting into the air outside the house.
That's when Nelson began firing from a white Cadillac near the home, Turner said.
"They admitted to being at the party and shooting guns," Turner said.
Nelson first fired several rounds from a .380-caliber handgun from the sunroof of the car. Then he sat back down and Pinder handed him a 9 mm gun, Turner said.
"As the car was speeding off (Nelson) fired shots into the crowd that was running up the hill," Turner said.
One of those shots hit Williams in the back of the head. She was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center, where she died Saturday morning.
Nelson's mother, Lalynn Bailey, said in televised reports that her son was acting in self defense against other boys who were trying to hurt him. Turner also said that Nelson told investigators that some boys at the party "had a beef with him about a girl."
Reached at her home Tuesday evening, Bailey said she had been instructed not to talk about the case, but did say that the boys with whom her son had been fighting came to her house three days before the incident.
"Give the other family my blessing," Bailey said.
Turner said police are still looking for two other people in connection with the case, the person who fired the first shots outside the house and a person who supposedly jumped into the Cadillac carrying Nelson and the others as they drove away.
A surveillance camera at a house near where the party was held caught an image of the Cadillac as it left the scene. That video helped in the investigation.
Police had to hold the four suspects without charges until around noon Tuesday. Detectives contacted Clayton County Magistrate Court Chief Judge Daphne Walker several times Monday night regarding the warrants, Turner said.
"Each time she requested additional information and we obliged her," Turner said.
Walker said she could not comment on the particulars of the warrants due to the restrictions of the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct. She did release a written statement regarding procedures for obtaining warrants.
According to the court's policy a magistrate judge is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to issue warrants for police officers. A duty judge is available at the courthouse from 8 a.m. to midnight and an on-call judge is available from midnight to 8 a.m.
The officers can arrest a suspect at the scene of a crime and complete a warrantless arrest affidavit, or, if the suspect is no longer at the scene of the crime, they can submit an application for a criminal arrest warrant.
If the officer submits the application for a warrant the officer must appear at the courthouse and present evidence to show probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. If probable cause is found, the warrant is issued immediately, according to the policy.
The only reason a judge would not issue a warrant is if the officer did not present enough evidence to prove probable cause. Also, any delay in issuing a warrant would be because of a failure to establish probable cause or "a delay in the officer contacting a judge to request the issuance of an arrest warrant."
"The procedures for issuing warrants for the homicide investigation involving Crystal Williams were consistent with these guidelines," Walker wrote in the conclusion of the statement.