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Two men convicted, but two others cleared, of murdering Morice Shiggs
Sea and Hendrix face sentencing next week; at least 14 shots fired in Nov. 27, 2020 exchange outside 111 South
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Anthony James Sea Jr., left, and Marquavis Hendrix, right, were found guilty of the Nov. 27, 2020 murder of Morice Devone Shiggs in a two-day trial this week.

A Bulloch County Superior Court jury, at the conclusion of a two-day trial this week, found two men guilty of murder but acquitted two others of all charges in connection with the Nov. 27, 2020 shooting death of Morice Devone Shiggs.

Shiggs, 19, of Sylvania, died after what was described in court as a shootout in a parking lot at the 111 South apartment complex on Statesboro’s Rucker Lane, over a payment dispute for a marijuana transaction. Twelve jurors, who deliberated from about 1:45 p.m. until about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, unanimously found Anthony James Sea Jr. of Statesboro and Immanuel Marquavis Hendrix of Millen guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm in the commission of aggravated assault.

Ladarian Talik Golfin
Ladarian Talik Golfin

But the jurors unanimously found Ladarian Talik Golfin, of Millen, and Cecil Darryl Kelly, of Garfield, not guilty of those same charges.

Ogeechee Circuit Chief Judge F. Gates Peed slated a sentencing hearing for Hendrix and Sea for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28 at their attorneys’ request. But on felony murder convictions Georgia law generally limits sentencing options to life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole.

All four men had been accused of the same counts in a May 2021 indictment, and the four were tried together at the same time.

 

Second trial

In fact, the proceeding that began at the Bulloch Judicial Annex 9 a.m. Tuesday was a retrial. In the first attempted trial, June 27-30, the previous jury deadlocked, failing to reach a unanimous verdict after about a day and a half of deliberations, at which time Peed declared a mistrial.

An all-new jury was selected Sept. 14.

This time, the trial, although slated to last up to four days, was finished in two with a decisive outcome.

“Once you’ve already gone though the motions on a first trial, going through it a second time is almost inevitably faster. I think everybody, both on the prosecution and defense sides, has a clearer idea about what they’re doing,” said Assistant District Attorney Russell Jones, who prosecuted the case. 

The presentation may also have been speeded by the fact that two of the defendants – Hendrix and Kelly – testified during the first trial attempt but did not do so during this week’s trial.

However, Jones introduced into evidence what was identified to the jury as “a sworn statement” by Hendrix. This was, in fact, a transcript of his testimony from the first trial attempt.

Hendrix’s statement and other testimony supported the version of events Jones gave in an interview before the trial: Shiggs, the homicide victim, had bought marijuana from Sea but apparently paid with counterfeit money. When Sea realized this, he called on Golfin, Hendrix and Kelly, and the four went at first to The George apartment complex, which borders the 111 South complex on two sides, to look for Shiggs.

Cecil Darryl Kelly
Cecil Darryl Kelly

Climbing over a fence, Shiggs went onto the grounds of 111 South, and Sea took the other defendants there, according to the prosecutor’s telling. While Sea remained back by the car, the other three defendants split up to look for Shiggs and another man, his cousin.

When they found Shiggs, a shootout occurred between him and Hendrix, who in his previous testimony acknowledged shooting at Shiggs.

The only guns police identified as being fired during the altercation were a Glock 9mm handgun purchased by Sea but reportedly fired by Hendrix and a Glock .40-caliber pistol whose last traceable owner, in 2017, was an Augusta resident but which was found along the fence at the scene and said to have been fired by Shiggs.

 

At least 14 shots

At least 14 shots were apparently fired during the altercation. Testifying the first morning of the trial, Detective Keith Holloway, the Statesboro Police Department’s crime scene technician, identified seven .40-caliber shell casings and nine 9mm shell casings police found and he photographed at locations in the parking lot and along the wooden fence. But two of the 9mm casings had been damaged, or “squished” he said, and so apparently were older and not from that night.

But the other 14 shell casings were fresh.

A single bullet hit Shiggs in the side, entering his chest. When the first police officers arrived on the scene about 7:30 p.m., Shiggs was still alive, but lying on the ground, groaning and rolling from side to side. Jurors saw this on video from a camera that had been worn by Tuesday’s first witness, Matthew Brinson, who is no longer with the police but was then an SPD patrol sergeant.

As seen in the video, officers placed a bandage on Shiggs, who was bleeding profusely, and attempted other first aid, but he soon became silent and motionless. One of the officers shouted, “Stay with me! Stay with me, man!” as they attempted CPR without success.

 

Self-defense claims

Sea’s defense attorney, John Carson, in his opening statement asserted that the evidence would show that although Sea was at the scene he “was not involved in the shootout,” that another man had left the scene, and that the defendants “were held at gunpoint by Morice Shiggs.”

But after hearing the evidence, jurors were apparently convinced that Sea instigated the incident, although Hendrix fired the fatal shot. Neither Golfin nor Kelly were shown to have been armed.

“Not only did my client not have a gun, he didn’t have any knowledge at the time that Mr. Hendrix had a gun,” Kelly’s attorney, Karen Brown, said in her opening statement.

The four defense attorneys – Brown, Carson, Richard Bailey for Hendrix and Craig Bonnell for Golfin – cross-examined prosecution witnesses but called no additional witnesses. So the defense rested right after the prosecution rested its case first thing Wednesday morning. Closing arguments followed.

Jones had argued, unsuccessfully, that Kelly and Golfin should be convicted as parties to the crime.

“Members of Morice Shiggs’ family were present for the trial, and they were very pleased with the result,” Jones said Wednesday. “I still stand by my decision to have prosecuted all four defendants but I am pleased that the ring leader and the actual shooter have been convicted.”

 

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