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Teen murder suspect could be charged as an adult

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The 16-year-old murder suspect waved to his mother when he entered the courtroom.

Reportedly a member of the 220 (Second to None) gang, who wrote lyrics about gang life and shooting people, the teen was in court for a probable cause hearing on charges he murdered, and robbed a 17-year-old during a marijuana deal.

The 16-year-old allegedly shot Edward Bernard Mills, 17, on Oct. 14, because Mills "tried to 'short' him some weed," according to Clayton County Police Detective Thomas Martin's arrest warrant application.

Martin testified, during the probable cause hearing on Thursday evening, that a witness told him the 16-year-old approached Mills and asked to buy three, $5 bags of marijuana, on Sunday, Oct. 14, at about 2 p.m.

Mills, also known as "Booman," only had $5 on him, at the time, and the two walked across the parking lot of Williamsburg South Apartments on Flint River Road in Jonesboro. The witness, an unnamed female, told the detective that she heard three or four gunshots, and saw the 16-year-old running away. The witness found Mills lying face down in the breezeway with a bullet hole in his side.

Martin said Mills was shot once in the left side. The bullet pierced his liver and his heart, and exited out his back.

A resident of the apartment complex, holding a prayer meeting that Sunday afternoon, told police he saw one man shoot another, and saw the shooter take money from the wounded man, and then run away, Martin said.

The 16-year-old, who is not being named because he is a juvenile who has not yet been charged as an adult, was identified by multiple witnesses as the person seen going to the scene and leaving after the gunshots were fired, Martin testified.

He did not release the names of the witnesses, during the hearing, because many of them have been receiving threats from 220 gang members, and some have left the area, believing they will be safer outside Clayton County.

All of the witnesses described the suspect as a black teen, with a scar under his left eye, someone who lived in the neighborhood, wearing a black jacket with blue and green stripes, a black hat, and had his hair in a gold twist, Martin said.

A 220 gang member came forward and spoke to police after his mom, a nurse, told Martin she had wondered if her son was involved in the shooting. The woman, Martin said, had treated Mills when he was rushed to the hospital, and had immediately wondered if her son was connected to the shooting.

The nurse's son, who has not been charged, told Martin that he, and the accused 16-year-old, drove to the apartment complex to buy marijuana. He said he didn't know his teenage partner was going to shoot Mills, but did see him carrying a 9 mm gun, Martin said.

The teen who is not currently facing charges, waited in a nearby car, expecting the accused shooter to return with marijuana.

"He heard one shot, got scared -- that's when he drove off -- and he heard more shots," Martin testified.

Police found a bag of marijuana on the ground, near the area where the accused gunman was seen running. They searched the 16-year-old's house, but did not find a gun, or the money that was allegedly stolen.

The teen was arrested at Riverdale High School. He is being charged with murder, armed robbery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Defense attorney Leon Hicks said the 16-year-old is innocent. Hicks said there are 10 witnesses who can testify the teen was at home, at the time of the shooting.

"I have people who will say, 'I saw him. I put my hands on him. I know where he was, he was somewhere else,'" Hicks said.

One of those witnesses is the teen's mother, who sat in the back of the courtroom, during the hearing, looking at her son and the murdered boy's mother.

Magistrate Judge Richard Brown ruled Thursday night that there was probable cause for the arrest of the teen, and the case was bound over to Superior Court.

It will now go to the prosecutor's office, where District Attorney Jewel Scott will review it, and decide if the 16-year-old should be prosecuted as an adult.