A retrial of four men on felony murder and other charges for the November 2020 shooting death of Morice Devone Shiggs, 19, was set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in Bulloch County Superior Court.
Responding to a call about shots fired in a residential area on Rucker Lane shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2020, Statesboro police found Shiggs, who was from Sylvania, suffering from a gunshot wound to his chest in a parking lot at the 111 South apartment complex. Despite medical efforts, he died at the scene.
Arrested at different times over three months during an investigation that extended through March 2021, Ladarian Talik Golfin and Immanuel Marquavis Hendrix, both of Millen, Cecil Darryl Kelly, of Garfield, and Anthony James Sea of Lanier Drive, Statesboro, all remain accused of the same three charges from a May 2021 indictment: felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. The indictment charged them “individually and as parties concerned in the commission of a crime.”
The case went to trial the first time beginning June 27. But after about a day and a half of deliberations, the jurors informed Judge F. Gates Peed that they could not reach a unanimous verdict, and he declared a mistrial, signing a notation to that effect on a blank verdict form at 3:30 p.m. June 30.
June jury split
Assistant District Attorney Russell Jones said that, based on his interviews with eight of the 12 jurors immediately after the mistrial, the jurors had been split 9-3, with nine jurors favoring conviction of all four defendants.
To explain the jury deadlock, Jones gave what he called a “broad strokes” account of what happened during the deadly November 2020 encounter. Based on witnesses’ statements, which Jones said included sworn testimony by two of the defendants during the June trial attempt, Shiggs, the alleged homicide victim, had bought marijuana from Sea.
“Morice Shiggs apparently gave counterfeit money over to Anthony Sea in exchange for the marijuana, and Anthony Sea after the transaction is over realizes he’s been given the counterfeit money, and he rounds up the other three defendants, and they come out initially to The George apartment complex, which is right next to 111 South, and they start looking for Morice,” Jones said Monday.
Hopping a fence, Shiggs went onto the grounds of 111 South, and Sea took the other defendants there, according to the prosecutor’s telling.
“Anthony Sea hangs back by the car,” Jones said. “The other three defendants split up and go into 111 South, they corner Morice and there is a shootout between Morice and Immanuel Hendrix, after they’ve cornered him. Immanuel Hendrix shoots Morice in the chest, and Morice dies.”
From the eight members of the June 27–30 jury that Jones talked to, he said he heard that while nine jurors had wanted to convict all four defendants, the other three thought that only Sea, who allegedly set the other defendants on Shiggs, and Hendrix, who allegedly fired the fatal shot, were guilty of murder. Those three jurors, Jones said, reportedly did not think Golfin and Kelly should be convicted and would not agree to convict Sea and Hendrix unless the other nine jurors agreed to acquit Golfin and Kelly.
So, although a verdict on some of the defendants and a deadlock on the others would have been possible, a hung jury with no verdicts on any of the four resulted.
Two handguns, one wielded by Shiggs and the other one that fired the shot that killed him, were discharged in the incident, said Jones, who is prosecuting the case for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants reportedly claimed self-defense in the first trial attempt. Hendrix and Kelly took the stand in their own defense, but the other two defendants did not. The four are represented by different defense attorneys: Sea by John Carson, Hendrix by Richard Bailey, Kelly by Karen Brown and Golfin by Craig Bonnell.
An all-new jury was selected Wednesday, Sept. 14. The trial is slated to last up to four days.