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Indictment links 3 murders to southeast Georgia prison gang
Smith State Prison
Grand jurors have indicted three people in the murder of a guard at Smith State Prison in Glennville. (Photo Courtesy Georgia Department of Corrections)

GLENNVILLE — Grand jurors have indicted three people in the murder of a guard at a troubled southeast Georgia prison, making it the third murder outside prison walls attributed to a gang.

WTOC-TV reports that Nathan Weekes, Dennis Kraft and Keisha Jones were indicted last week in Long County for malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault in the 2021 death of Jessica Gerling.

Gerling was shot dead and found in June 2021 at a Ludowici mobile home park.

Weekes is in prison in Jackson, while Jones is in jail in Reidsville. Kraft was arrested in January, but online records don't show him currently jailed. It's unclear if any of the three have lawyers.

The indictment alleges that Weekes, Kraft and Jones were members of the "Yves Saint Laurent Squad" — a gang that smuggles contraband into Smith State Prison in Glennville. Weekes is alleged to be the gang's leader, and supposedly has claimed "it is his prison." Officials have said earlier that cellphones, drugs, jewelry, designer clothing and cash were illegally taken into the prison.

Warden Brian Dennis Adams was fired after he was arrested for racketeering, making or writing false statements, violating his oath as a public officer and bribery. Officials said Adams took cash through "a pattern of racketeering activity" associated with the gang, and lied to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent when he said he hadn't been solicited or bribed by an inmate.

The new indictment alleges Gerling was a high-ranking member of the gang — its "First Lady" — while working as a guard at the prison. Grand jurors alleged Gerling and Weekes had a romantic relationship. Gerling was fired in June 2020 for smuggling marijuana into the prison, which the indictment says she did on behalf of the gang.

Weekes and Jones then recruited Kraft, a friend of Jones, to kill Gerling in 2021, the indictment claims. An earlier indictment described Jones as Weekes' girlfriend and the gang's treasurer outside the prison. It's unclear why the gang would have wanted Gerling killed.

The indictment also connects two other killings to the gang. The indictment says that gang members are responsible for the January 2021 killing of 88-year-old Bobby Kicklighter at his home in Glennville. Investigators have said Christopher Sumlin, a former Smith State Prison inmate, meant to kill a prison guard who lived on the same street who had refused to take bribes. Officials said Sumlin killed Kicklighter by mistake. Jones, Sumlin, Weekes and Aerial Murphy were charged earlier in the murder.

Sumlin was then accused of killing Jerry Lee Davis, a truck driver who made frequent deliveries to the prison, at his home near Jesup. Grand jurors said Weekes and Gerling conspired with Sumlin in that killing.

The new indictment adds more racketeering charges against the defendants, saying gang members bribe prison guards to bring in contraband, and resorts to threats or violence when they refuse. The document also says the gang recruits allies outside the prison to apply for guard jobs.

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