LAWRENCEVILLE - Three men accused of fatally shooting a 29-year-old man during a botched drug transaction were bound over Friday to Superior Court on murder charges.
Jose Antonio Bercian, 23, his two cousins, Alex Mauricio Bercian, 30, and Daniel Jimenez Mauricio, 25, all face one count of conspiracy to purchase marijuana and felony murder. However, their attorneys contend the men shot Derek Sadar Carter in self-defense.
Carter was shot 12 times while inside Jose Bercian's home on Connor's Court in Lawrenceville Aug. 14, Detective J.D. Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department testified during a preliminary hearing Friday. But what actually transpired leading up to the gunfight is a matter of interpretation.
Bercian initially told police he was alone in the house when he encountered an unidentified intruder in the front hallway. Bercian claimed he ran to his bedroom, grabbed a gun and fatally shot the suspect after the suspect pulled a gun on him.
However, evidence at the scene contradicted Bercian's story, Smith said. There were three types of bullets from three different guns - a 9 mm semi-automatic, a .357-caliber pistol and a revolver - discharged inside the home, Smith said. Carter's gun, a .40-caliber Glock, was never fired.
When confronted with the new evidence in a police interview, Bercian reportedly changed his story several times. Eventually, he admitted to investigators that his two cousins, Alex Bercian and Daniel Mauricio, were in the house with him, each armed with their own guns.
Bercian also admitted he invited Carter into his home, because he had arranged to purchase an unspecified quantity of marijuana from him, Smith said.
When Bercian looked at the marijuana and pronounced it "no good," he claimed Carter pulled out a gun. His cousin, Alex Bercian, then began struggling with Carter. That struggle ended in the living room of the house with Carter dead on the floor. Alex Bercian was also accidentally shot in the shoulder by his brother, Smith said.
Police believe all three suspects fired shots that struck Carter, but ballistics tests are pending by the GBI to determine which wounds were fatal. Investigators have obtained separate confessions from the trio that are fairly consistent, Smith said.
Alex's attorney, Charlie Wrinkle, said it was self-defense.
"This guy shows up and he had a gun," Wrinkle said. "There was a struggle between Alex and Carter and during the struggle, that is when the guns were discharged."
Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Robert Waller found sufficient evidence to bind over charges against the three men to Superior Court. They are being held without bond at the Gwinnett County Detention Center in Lawrenceville.