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Three charged in fatal shooting

LAWRENCEVILLE - A fatal shooting which appeared Monday to be in self defense was ruled Wednesday to be a homicide.

Jose Antonio Bercian, 23, told police he shot an armed intruder in his house Monday evening. However, subsequent investigation has revealed Bercian misled investigators to cover a drug deal that went awry, said Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Bercian and his two cousins, Alex Mauricio Bercian, 30, and Daniel Jimenez Mauricio, 25, all of Lawrenceville, were arrested Wednesday on charges of felony murder.

Investigators believe the three men arranged to meet 29-year-old Derek Sadar Carter for an illegal drug transaction Monday night at Jose Bercian's house on Connors Court in the Glen Oaks Racquet Club subdivision. At some point that evening, all four individuals drew their guns and fired at each other, said Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department. Carter was killed.

Bercian went across the street to a neighbor's home to call police. He claimed he walked out of his bedroom that night to find a stranger in his house. Bercian stated he retrieved a handgun, confronted the man and the two exchanged gunfire, Moloney said.

Bercian also reportedly claimed he didn't know the victim.

Preliminary investigation seemed to support Bercian's story that it was a homicide in self-defense of a home invasion. Further probing by Detective J.D. Smith and an autopsy performed Tuesday revealed that Bercian lied to investigators, Moloney said.

"Preliminary investigation of the shooting death strongly indicated this homicide was in self-defense, but the physical evidence did not match the homeowner's statements," Moloney said.

All three suspects are being held at the Gwinnett County Detention Center without bond.