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Mid-trial guilty plea for suspect in fatal Norcross ambush

Jovian Lanus

Jovian Lanus

LAWRENCEVILLE — A mid-trial guilty plea will send Jovian Lanus to prison for life.

Lanus, 26, was one of three people charged in the July 29, 2013, murder of Stephen Carden, who was allegedly lured to a Norcross apartment complex after meeting the lone female suspect at a club in Atlanta. During Wednesday’s opening statements, attorneys on both sides of the case admitted that Lanus had confessed in a videotaped interview with police, but defense attorney Lawrence Lewis questioned the validity of that confession.

But the defense changed its tune later in the day, assistant district attorney Karen West said. She said Lewis approached her about a deal as the jury was listening to the aforementioned admission.

Lanus entered a guilty plea Wednesday to felony murder and aggravated assault. Originally facing 11 separate charges, including three counts of murder, he was sentenced to life in prison.

According to Gwinnett County police and West’s opening statement, Carden, a 28-year-old Marietta resident, and his cousin were at a pair of Atlanta clubs the night and early morning before Carden was killed. They came across 22-year-old Diara Hood in a parking lot and believed they were headed for a rendezvous at her apartment in Norcross.

Once arriving at the Celadon Apartments, the cousins were greeted by Lanus and 18-year-old Tyler Estrada. Estrada reportedly hit both victims with the butt of his revolver before Lanus shot Carden in the face.

Estrada and Hood will be tried at a later date.