Cops: 3 charged with murder after man killed in botched Sandy Springs drug deal

Bradford Fosten, 43, was shot during an alleged armed robbery in Sandy Springs and died from his wounds in his friend's car before his body was dumped along the road in South Fulton, according to police.

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Bradford Fosten, 43, was shot during an alleged armed robbery in Sandy Springs and died from his wounds in his friend's car before his body was dumped along the road in South Fulton, according to police.

A private community of townhomes nestled in a bend of the Chattahoochee River in northern Sandy Springs served as the unlikely setting for a botched drug deal last week that resulted in one man dead and three others in jail on murder charges, police said.

According to arrest warrants obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the alleged drug deal and shooting took place in the Carroll Manor neighborhood just off North River Parkway on Sept. 8. The following day, 43-year-old Bradford Fosten was found dead from a gunshot wound in South Fulton, his body dumped in a residential area near the intersection of Cascade Drive and Cascade Hills Road.

Fosten and his friend, 43-year-old Carvados Demarcus Phelps, had gone to Sandy Springs to buy marijuana from two teenagers who had recently arrived in metro Atlanta from Michigan, according to the warrants. Demond Courtney Smith and Garrett Keon McCaa, both 19, were staying at the Sandy Springs townhouse together.

Sandy Springs police were called to the townhouse the night of Sept. 8 after neighborhood residents reported a man going door to door asking for help, the warrants said. Officers found McCaa at the home suffering from gunshot wounds to his arm and stomach. Smith had jumped from a second-story balcony and run away. He told investigators he ran until he was exhausted, then saw a police car and walked up to it to speak with the officer. He explained why he was running and was taken to the hospital, where he was met by a detective, according to the warrants.

At the hospital, Smith told police he had driven from his home in Shelby Township, Michigan, to visit his cousin McCaa and help him move, the warrants said. Smith told the detective he and McCaa were sitting in the apartment when two armed, masked men burst through the door. The second man pointed a pistol at his cousin, Smith allegedly told police, and he heard two shots as he ran to the balcony and jumped.

According to the warrants, however, investigators quickly found evidence conflicting with Smith’s story.

Because the crime described by Smith took place inside McCaa’s home, police obtained a search warrant for the townhouse. While searching the home, police found “a large amount of marijuana in plain view,” the arrest warrants said.

McCaa said at the hospital that he did not want to speak to police, and when both he and Smith were brought into Sandy Springs police headquarters for interviews, they refused to provide any further information, the warrants said. Both were arrested on Sept. 9 and charged with trafficking marijuana, Fulton County Jail records show. They were each released Tuesday on $25,000 bond.

In the meantime, detectives returned to Carroll Manor to canvass the neighborhood. A neighbor was able to provide video footage that captured some of the circumstances around the shooting, the warrants said.

The warrants describe the video as showing a dark-colored Mercedes-Benz SUV pull up to McCaa’s townhouse. A man can be seen getting out with a backpack and walking up to the door. About five minutes later, a second man is seen exiting the SUV’s rear passenger door.

According to the warrants, the second man would not have been visible in the SUV due to dark tinting on its rear windows. He also appeared as if “he was attempting to not be seen by Mr. McCaa and Mr. Smith,” an investigator wrote in the warrant.

Several minutes after the second man was seen walking toward the house, a gunshot can be heard on the video footage, the warrants said. About two minutes after that, a second gunshot is heard.

One of the men can be seen running to the SUV, getting in the driver’s seat and starting the vehicle. The other man then runs to the waiting SUV carrying a “large, heavy black trash bag,” the warrants said. He throws it into the rear of the SUV and gets into the passenger’s seat, then the Mercedes quickly pulls away.

Traffic cameras were able to capture images of the SUV, and detectives determined it was registered to Phelps. On Wednesday, he was detained by South Fulton police for questioning, the warrants said.

In his interview with South Fulton detectives, Phelps admitted he and Fosten had planned to go to Sandy Springs for a drug deal, according to the warrants. He then said they decided to break the deal and rob the sellers instead. The robbery did not go as planned and Fosten was shot, though the warrants did not say who fired the fatal gunshot. Fosten then ran out to Phelps’ SUV while Phelps grabbed as much marijuana as he could, according to the warrants.

As the two drove away, Fosten told Phelps he was shot, but he continued driving until he began to lose consciousness, the warrants said. He pulled over and the two switched seats, but by the time they reached South Fulton, Phelps realized Fosten was dead. Phelps told police he left his friend’s body “somewhere that he would be found.”

Phelps was arrested Wednesday on charges of felony murder, armed robbery and abandonment of a body, jail records show. Smith and McCaa were each arrested early Friday morning and face charges of felony murder. All three remain in jail without bond.