Three of four suspects charged in the 2015 fatal shooting of Darwyn Taylor at Columbus’ Riverwind Apartments pleaded guilty to reduced charges Monday.
Taylor, 22, had a gunshot wound to the head when found behind the wheel of a car at the 1811 Riverwind Drive apartments around 3:45 p.m. Dec. 16, 2015. He was pronounced dead there at 4:28 p.m.
A second man, 24, was seriously wounded in the gunfire. He told police he and Taylor were lured to the apartments by Jacorion Tremayne Gary, 21, who was to sell Taylor a handgun.
The witness said Taylor and Gary met earlier that day at a store on Seventh Avenue to haggle over the weapon’s price. After Taylor left to get more money to buy the gun, Gary over the phone told him police were at the store, so they had to meet behind the apartments.
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After Gary got into the back seat of Taylor’s car, he pistol-whipped the driver and shot both victims during a struggle over the gun, police said.
The witness was wounded again as he ran away, fleeing to a Ramsey Road residence nearby, officers said. He told police that as he fled, he saw Jaleel Kenyard Merritt, 22, who was known to associate with Gary, driving a gray Honda Civic in the neighborhood.
A city special enforcement officer later told police he was parked behind a former Winn-Dixie store on South Lumpkin Road when he heard multiple gunshots, then saw a gray Honda Civic circling behind the business before stopping to pick up three men who came from the woodline.
Besides Gary and Merritt, detectives also charged Kenjerald Brentez Jordan and Dantrell Sims in the attempted robbery and homicide.
In court Monday, Gary pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery, using a firearm to commit a felony and being a convicted felon with a firearm. Court records show he was convicted of felony theft on Aug. 19, 2015, just four months before Taylor’s slaying.
Judge Frank Jordan Jr. sentenced him to 35 years in prison with 20 to serve and the rest on probation.
A second suspect, Dantrell Sims, 22, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery, using a firearm to commit a crime, and being a first-offender with a firearm. Jordan sentenced him also to 35 years with 20 to serve.
Merritt pleaded guilty to attempted robbery. Jordan sentenced him to 10 years with two to serve, and he was released, with credit for the time he’s already spent in jail awaiting trial.
Charges still are pending against a fourth defendant, Kenjerald Brentez Jordan, 18. His defense attorney, Mark Jones, currently is representing another defendant in an armed robbery trial.