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Boykin pleads to lesser charges

Must testify against co-defendant

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A co-defendant in a double murder case pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday and agreed to continue testifying against the man convicted in the deaths.

Michael Lewis Boykin Jr., 19, pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and conspiracy to purchase more than an ounce of marijuana. Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Deborah Benefield sentenced Boykin to 10 years, to serve two in prison.

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Photo by Kathy Jefcoats An emotional Michael Boykin testifies Tuesday about seeing his friend shot in the head.

Boykin and Christopher Bradshaw, 27, were charged with murder and other felonies in the June 2011 shooting deaths of Devonta Emon Stembridge, 19, and Dion Brice, 16. Boykin had arranged the sale of a pound of marijuana from the victims to Bradshaw. But when Bradshaw opened the package and discovered hay inside the marijuana, police said he became enraged and shot them both in the head.

Bradshaw was convicted of the murders last week. Boykin was the state's star witness and said that he was not looking for leniency in exchange for his testimony.

Boykin said Friday he was sorry about the murders. He said he'd lost a brother and understood the families' grief.

Boykin sobbed during his testimony against Bradshaw when he recalled Stembridge's last moments.

"I saw his face light up," said Boykin. "I heard him take his last breath."

Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers asked if he called for help for the man he called "Mohawk."

"No," said Boykin, fighting back tears. "I ran. I was scared."

Within seconds, Boykin said he heard more shots as he ran. Stembridge's passenger, Brice, was shot twice.

Bradshaw didn't take the stand but told Benefield during sentencing that he was innocent and Boykin was to blame for the shootings. Powers presented a threatening text message from Bradshaw to Boykin less than nine hours after the shooting: "Don't say (expletive deleted) to nobody."

"You're not worrying about snitching if you didn't do it," said Powers during her closing statement March 14.

Bradshaw is also a suspect in an Ohio killing that Powers said is similar to the Clayton County murders. She said Bradshaw bragged to Boykin that he shot the man in the back of the head, a fact the police withheld from the public.

As part of the plea deal, Boykin must testify truthfully against Bradshaw in Ohio, said Benefield. If Bradshaw gets a new trial in Clayton County, Boykin must testify again, she ordered.

Boykin must undergo drug and alcohol counseling. He will get credit for time served since his arrest.