LAWRENCEVILLE — The lookout during the robbery that led to young Nick Jackson’s death has pleaded guilty, likely accepting 15 years in prison in exchange for his testimony against multiple co-defendants.
Darrez Chandler, 32, pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary charges in front of Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tom Davis late Thursday afternoon. A single malice murder count and three more felony murder charges — all filed under the “party to a crime” philosophy — will be dropped pending his truthful testimony.
That testimony will make its debut next week, when the trial for three of his alleged co-conspirators is scheduled to begin.
“When it comes time for you to testify, Mr. Chandler, I want you to remember one thing and one thing only: You need to tell the truth, whatever the truth is,” Davis said Thursday. “It may or may not be what anybody wants you to say, but it needs to be what you really know.”
Sentencing was deferred Thursday, but Assistant District Attorney Mike Morrison recommended a sentence of 25 years with 15 served in prison. Parole will not be an option.
Chandler was reportedly the lookout during the Feb. 2, 2012, robbery at 310 Autry St. in Norcross.
Fueled by rumors of at least $1 million cash — the purported proceeds of Nick Jackson I’s admitted cocaine trafficking – six men stormed the house that night. Fifteen-year-old Nick Jackson II was shot and killed in his basement bedroom during the subsequent chaos.
Chandler, who also helped assemble part of the crew, drove two of his fellow suspects to Norcross from Atlanta before camping out in a nearby parking lot. He said Thursday that he was on the phone with Anthony Lumpkin, accused of kicking the door in and firing the fatal bullet, during the entire robbery.
During a preview of what will be his testimony at trial, Chandler said he heard shots fired and Lumpkin mutter a few damning words.
“I heard Anthony Lumpkin say, ‘This man’s dead,’” he said. Chandler allegedly fled the area alone when police started arriving and was arrested separately from the other six men in the crew, whose van was pulled over just a few blocks from the Jackson home.
On Oct. 15, co-defendant Jason Dozier was sentenced to two sentences of life without parole plus 45 years. The first suspect to be tried in the case, Dozier fired shots during the robbery, but not the fatal one. Regardless, he was found guilty of malice murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary and possession of a firearm during the commission of the crime.
Another defendant, Timothy Johnson, pleaded guilty prior to Dozier’s trial, also agreeing to testify.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin next week in the trial for three of the case’s four remaining suspects: Lumpkin, Michael Earl Davis and Eddie Lewis Green. Each of those three men is charged with single counts of malice murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary, as well as three counts apiece of felony murder and various weapons charges.
Because of the Veterans Day holiday, proceedings are slated to begin Tuesday. At their conclusion, 21-year-old Reco Dehaven West will be the only defendant yet to enter a plea or stand trial.