Cops: Teen charged with murder not necessarily shooter

Larnell Sillah, from left, Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart

Larnell Sillah, from left, Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Though only one of the three young suspects in the robbery-driven killing of Grayson High School freshman Paul Sampleton Jr. has been charged with murder, police aren't saying concretely that he was the shooter.

Gwinnett County police announced Friday that three teenagers -- Larnell Sillah, 15; Achiel Morgan, 15; and Romaine Stewart, 18 -- had been arrested in connection to the Dec. 19 slaying of Sampleton, who was discovered bound and fatally shot inside his mother's Grayson home. All three suspects have been charged with armed robbery, but only Sillah is currently facing a murder charge.

Warrants obtained by the Daily Post said Sillah "during a robbery shot and killed the victim," but a police spokesman said Monday the investigation is ongoing.

"Sillah was charged with the homicide, but we are not specifically saying that he is the shooter at this point," Gwinnett police Cpl. Jake Smith said. "The (district attorney's office) will consider all of this info at some point and make a determination on who will be indicted on what charges. So the actual charges may change when a grand jury comes up."

Both juveniles -- who, like Sampleton, were freshmen at Grayson High -- are being charged as adults. Stewart is a senior at Grayson, Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana said.

All three suspects are being held without bond. Warrants said Sillah and Morgan were being housed at a youth detention center in Clayton County.

Police confirmed for the first time last week that Sampleton's death was likely the product of a robbery fueled by his affinity for high-end sneakers, but much more was stolen from the Sampleton home on Haynescrest Drive.

The suspects stole shoes, three TVs, an XBox gaming system, clothes and an iPad 2, warrants said. Smith declined to release specifics.

Sampleton was killed after returning home alone after a half-day of school on Dec. 19, the county's last day of classes before winter break. His father, who lives in Lithonia, discovered his body at about 2:40 p.m.

At 5:15 p.m. that day, Morgan took to Twitter with a simple message, one that has been retweeted many times since his arrest.

"R.I.p. Paul," the suspect wrote.

Friends and classmates speculated immediately that the homicide was likely tied to sneakers, though many assumed Sampleton's death was probably due to a fatal meeting with a fellow member of the website Addicted to All Things Fresh, an online community where participants can swap shoes and clothes.

All three suspects lived in the Hawnthorn Farms subdivision, less than half a mile down U.S. Highway 78 from the crime scene. Stewart and Morgan lived just three houses apart.