It was a setup.
Gwinnett County police believe 28-year-old Steven Carden and pal Thomas Smith met their female acquaintance at an Atlanta club that night in July. The girl — six years their junior, pretty, tattooed — invited them back to Norcross’ Celadon Apartments to hang out.
By morning, Smith was hit over the head outside Building F and robbed. Carden was shot dead.
Police have now identified the woman and her two alleged male accomplices, charging them all with murder.
Earlier this month, Gwinnett homicide detectives learned that Diara Hood, the 22-year-old woman, and 18-year-old Tyler Estrada were already in custody in DeKalb County on separate armed robbery and aggravated assault charges. On Friday, the GCPD SWAT team served a warrant at 26-year-old Jovian Lanus’ home on McCord Livsey Road near Snellville.
Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said all three individuals developed into suspects in the weeks following the July 29 incident but extra legwork was required. Each of the suspects have been charged with murder and two counts of armed robbery, with Lanus facing an extra count of aggravated assault.
All three are being held without bond.
In the days following the incident, the surviving victim reportedly told police he and Carden had been walking through the apartment complex, located off South Norcross-Tucker Road, when they had “a brief conversation with two black males.” He said he was then struck from behind by an unknown object.
Drugs are not believed to be a factor in the incident, Smith said.