The private organization that supervised a teenager now accused of murder claimed Monday it has an unblemished record of reforming young, often violent criminals.
But just one day before police charged Jayden Myrick, 17, with killing a man shot during a robbery outside an Atlanta country club, a judge revoked the probation of Myrick’s co-defendant in an earlier crime. Like Myrick, that teenager allegedly committed more crimes after leaving a juvenile detention center.
And like Myrick, Kolby Price, also 17, was arrested while assigned to the rehabilitation program Visions Unlimited.
The arrests call into question decisions by Fulton County judges to assign teenagers charged with adult crimes to the organization and its founder, a self-described visionary named Gwendolyn Sands. Visions Unlimited has no office, no paid employees and no funding. Sands lacks formal training in social work or criminology. She has a history of financial troubles, including an arrest for passing a bad check.
Fulton’s chief Superior Court judge has declined to answer questions about Visions Unlimited in general or its supervision of Myrick in particular.
But in a news conference Monday, Sands’ son, Leonard Dungee, said judges knew the organization has no residential facility and does not operate around the clock.
“This is a successful program and has been for years,” said Dungee, the organization’s chief operating officer. “This is the first time we’ve had this issue.”
He added: “When they’re with Visions Unlimited, they don’t get in trouble.”
But Dungee would not reconcile inconsistencies in his version of work his organization did with Myrick, who is charged with killing 34-year-old Christian Broder of Washington, D.C. On July 8, Broder, an Atlanta native, was shot during a robbery while he and three others waited for an Uber outside the Capital City Club in north Atlanta. He died July 20.
Dungee said no one expected Myrick to live with Sands, even though she twice acquiesced to a judge’s order to take in the teen. He also said Visions Unlimited never claimed it would monitor Myrick around the clock, even though Sands promised the judge the organization would provide “24/7 supervision.”
“We provided Mr. Myrick with the proper supervision during our regular hours of operation,” said Dungee, who described himself as Myrick’s “life coach.”
“He was under my supervision when he was with me,” Dungee said. “He did not commit crimes. He learned a trade.”
Dungee spoke outside a house he is renovating in Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood – a project that doubles as “career readiness” training for Vision Unlimited participants.
Myrick earned $10 an hour working for Dungee as a laborer, the same as others in the program.
“They have no skills,” Dungee said.
Dungee gave few details about Visions Unlimited, other than to say it is “self-funded.” In the late 2000s, the organization received several million dollars from non-profit foundations, but its fundraising dried up after the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status.
Visions Unlimited began working with Myrick in August 2017. Charged as an adult at age 14 after committing an armed robbery in 2015, Myrick had been sentenced to seven years in prison. But because he was still underage, he entered a juvenile detention center. As his 17th birthday approached last summer, Fulton Superior Court Judge Doris Downs had two choices: send him to adult prison for the rest of his sentence or release him on probation.
She assigned him to the custody of Visions Unlimited. Instead, he returned to his family’s home in southwest Atlanta.
A few weeks later, Downs also released Price, one of Myrick’s co-defendants in the 2015 robbery. She ordered Price to “successfully complete all requirements” imposed by Visions Unlimited.
Price left juvenile detention last September. On May 9, he allegedly ran away from a Hapeville officer investigating reports of teenagers smoking marijuana in a park. A few minutes later, other officers caught Price, who clutched a fanny pack. Police said the bag contained a loaded, cocked .22-caliber revolver.
Police charged Price with possession of a handgun by a minor and obstruction of a police officer.
Judge Downs revoked Price’s probation on July 12, the day before Myrick was arrested in the country club shooting. The judge sent Price to jail for six months.
In a brief interview outside her home last week, Price’s mother, Marilyn Price, called Visions Unlimited “a good program” that tried to help her son find a job.
But when Dungee was asked Monday about Price, he said only, “I am not familiar with that name.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.