Larnell Sillah, from left, Achiel Morgan and Romaine Stewart
LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Gwinnett County detective testified Friday that another person of interest exists in the murder case of Paul Sampleton Jr., but police are mum this week on further details.
Eighteen-year-old Romaine Stewart and 15-year-olds Achiel Morgan and Larnell Sillah -- the latter the lone defendant charged with murder -- had probable cause hearings in front of a Gwinnett County magistrate last week, during which Det. Andrew Whaley laid out about 90 minutes worth of basics about the department's investigation. Sillah's uncle, Whaley revealed, is also a person of interest in the sneaker-related robbery and murder of Sampleton, a 14-year-old Grayson High School freshman.
A police spokesman declined Tuesday to comment specifically on that facet of the case.
"It's still under active investigation," Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.
It's Sillah, police believe, that was at Sampleton's townhome when he was killed on Dec. 19 -- and he may have had help that didn't include his current co-defendants.
Whaley said detectives believe it was the silver BMW of Sillah's uncle Andrew Murray, as well as the Toyota Corolla registered to his girlfriend, that neighbors saw lurking in the days leading up to Sampleton's murder. It's a similar BMW that a cleaning lady reportedly saw leaving the crime scene at about 1 p.m. on Dec. 19, the day of Sampleton's murder.
During a traffic stop on Dec. 21 -- the same day Gwinnett police executed the first of two search warrants at the home where Murray lived with Sillah, his mother and a friend -- Murray reportedly fled on foot and was arrested and charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
A pair of sneakers police are attempting to concretely tie to Sampleton was found in the garage where Murray and another friend slept. Texts between that friend and another women reportedly said the man was upset because "they had hit a lick," or performed a robbery, without him.
When asked about the murder during interrogations, Sillah pointed fingers, Whaley said.
"He'd say, 'You have to talk to Drew or Ty about that,'" Whaley testified.
Murray has not been charged with a crime and no warrants have been issued for his arrest.
As the case currently stands, the physical evidence against any of the suspects (or anyone else) is minimal, though Whaley did say many items from the scene are still being analyzed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab. The detective testified Friday that all three teens, who live in the same neighborhood about half a mile from Sampleton's, admitted to having a discussion on the school bus about robbing Sampleton.
Morgan reportedly walked the victim home from Stewart's house after a haircut, reporting his exact address back to Sillah, the alleged leader of a gang called the Young Wavy Goons.
The alleged extent of involvement, if any, of Morgan and Stewart beyond that point is unclear. They have been charged only with armed robbery.
There were no shell casings found at the scene, Whaley said, and the bullets used to shoot Sampleton three times in the head are believed to have disintegrated on impact.