LAWRENCEVILLE — The one-year anniversary of Paul Sampleton Jr.’s death is rapidly approaching, but a trial for the men — and boys — tied to the Grayson teen’s murder is likely still many months away.
Sampleton, 14, was tied up, shot and killed inside his mother’s Grayson townhome last Dec. 19, believed to be the tragic end of a robbery aimed at his high-end sneakers, clothes and electronics. Three Grayson High School classmates, ages 15, 15 and 18, were initially arrested and charged in the case, accused of plotting the crime on a Gwinnett County school bus.
Fifteen-year-old Larnell Sillah was, and remains, the only teen charged with murder.
In August, though, Sillah was joined by his uncle, Andrew Richard Murray, and another adult, Tavaughn Saylor. Indictments said all three caused Sampleton’s death “by shooting him in the head.” Thanks in large part to federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Murray and Saylor were eventually tracked down in Connecticut and New York, respectively.
Therein lies the delay.
Murray is still up north being prosecuted on drug charges, Gwinnett Assistant District Attorney Mike Morrison said this week. Saylor is now at a prison in Clayton County, but is awaiting prosecution on federal gun charges. Until those cases are taken care of, there will be no trial for Sampleton’s murder.
Morrison estimated local proceedings wouldn’t commence “until later in 2014.”
“Until we can get (Murray and Saylor) here in Gwinnett, we cannot start the process of moving forward towards trial, such as arraignment, pretrial motions, etc.,” he wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, Sillah remains in a juvenile detention center along with Achiel Anthony Morgan, also 15 years old at the time of Sampleton’s death. Romaine Christopher Stewart, 18 when he was arrested, is being held at the Gwinnett County jail.
Morgan and Stewart have been indicted only on charges of robbery, theft and gang-related charges. All three teens are believed to be members of a gang call the Young Wavy Goonz, of which Sillah is the alleged leader.
Anthony Lamar English, a Norcross man who prosecutors believe purchased goods stolen from Sampleton’s home, is also being held in the Gwinnett County jail. Court records show he is scheduled for a bond hearing in February.
On Dec. 19, 2012, Paul Sampleton Jr. road the bus home to his mother’s Haynescrest Drive townhome, going home alone after the last day of school prior to Christmas break. His father later discovered him bound and shot. Authorities later said they found a pair of his sneakers inside the garage of a home on nearby Farmstead Court, where Murray, Saylor and Sillah lived with the latter’s mother.
In previous hearings, a Gwinnett County police detective testified that Sillah, Morgan and Stewart planned the robbery on the school bus. They were schoolmates with Sampleton at Grayson High School and acquaintances from the football team.
During interrogations, Sillah reportedly told detectives they would “have to talk to Drew or Ty” — referencing Murray and Saylor — about Sampleton’s murder.