Police arrested a second suspect Thursday in a fatal shooting outside a north Atlanta country club as new details emerged about the leniency granted in an earlier case to the 17-year-old accused gunman.
Jayden Myrick, who was arrested in the shooting last month, was “the big test case” for reforming juvenile offenders outside of adult prison, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs told the teenager during a hearing on March 12, according to a transcript made public Thursday. Downs overruled a prosecutor’s insistence that Myrick was dangerous and a request to revoke his probation for an armed robbery he committed in 2015 at age 14.
Downs told Myrick at the end of the March hearing, “I’m pulling for you.”
“I’ve got your name etched in the back of my head,” the judge said. “I go to sleep at night and I’m wondering where you are and what you are up to … [The prosecutor] says we’ve made the mistake of a lifetime, and I’m hoping we’re right.”
Four months later, Myrick was back in jail, accused of killing 34-year-old Christian Broder, a Washington, D.C., restaurant executive who was in Atlanta for a wedding. Broder, a husband and father of an infant, died about two weeks after the July 8 shooting.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department arrested the second suspect, 19-year-old Torrus Fleetwood, who is accused of driving a stolen 2014 Dodge Charger to the gates of the Capital City Club near Brookhaven, where Broder and three others were waiting for an Uber after leaving the wedding reception. Police said it was Myrick who jumped out, pointed a gun at the wedding guests and demanded their belongings. Broder followed Myrick, trying to negotiate, according to police reports, and Myrick pulled the trigger, shooting him in the stomach.
Fleetwood, of southeast Atlanta, is charged with murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Like Myrick, he had been given breaks in previous criminal cases, allowing him to be out of jail the night of the shooting.
In January 2016, Fleetwood was arrested in Clayton County on charges of making terroristic threats, obstruction of a police officer and battery on a police officer. He pleaded guilty about a year later and received a three-year sentence – six months in jail and 2 ½ years on probation.
Fulton County court records show that Fleetwood was also arrested on June 26, 2016, for robbery by force and other charges, including battery and gang activity.
Seven months later, on Jan. 25, 2017, he pleaded guilty before Fulton Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years on probation. But Glanville credited Fleetwood’s time served, and he was released Jan. 31, 2017.
A Clayton County judge revoked his probation in March of this year and ordered him to spend 30 days in jail. The details of the probation violation do not appear in court records.
The connection between Myrick and Fleetwood was not immediately clear. Attempts to reach Fleetwood’s mother and grandmother were not successful Thursday. Both teenagers had allegedly participated in street gangs, although records don’t indicate whether they belonged to the same groups.
An investigation published Sunday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Myrick had been released early from a seven-year sentence for a 2015 robbery, placed in the care of a little-known rehabilitation program called Visions Unlimited. The organization has no office and no paid employees, it meets with teenagers in a branch library, and it lost its tax-exempt status in 2015, preventing donors from writing off contributions. Leonard Dungee, the son of the organization’s founder, Gwendolyn Sands, said Monday that Visions Unlimited is “self-funded.”
Myrick was convicted as an adult in the robbery. But because he was still a juvenile, he entered a state juvenile detention center. On his 17th birthday, the law required that he be transferred to adult prison or be placed on probation.
Judge Downs released him in August after Sands promised an array of services: education, job training, family counseling and what she called “24/7 supervision.”
Court transcripts made public Thursday show that Downs placed enormous trust in Sands. In a hearing last November, Downs told Myrick, “Basically, the probation that you are on is directed by Ms. Sands until further notice.” The judge said Sands had “a very detailed plan” for Myrick and would enforce a round-the-clock curfew.
Downs revoked Myrick’s probation that day for posting gang-related images on social media. But on his release, she ordered, he was to be placed in Sands’ custody — and to live in her home.
Myrick’s release, Downs said, was “on the condition that Ms. Sands takes him in like she promised she would do.”
Addressing Sands, Downs added, “Do you stand ready to do that?”
“Yes, your honor, I do,” Sands answered.
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