It was a baffling case from the start. Anthony Tyrone Terrell Jr., then 17, was arrested two years ago and charged with gunning down his mother and two young sisters.
Prosecutors said Terrell had been bickering with his mother, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Deputy Joy Deleston, about his cell phone usage and having his girlfriend over without supervision leading up to the slayings. However, there was little to explain why things took such a violent turn on Feb. 28, 2008.
Terrell, now 19, may finally be ready to provide some answers.
He is expected to plead guilty in coming weeks to murder and aggravated assault charges in the deaths of his mother and his two half sisters, Micaiah, 11, and Jelani, 4.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said he expects the case to be resolved by Labor Day. Scheduling has been an issue, since most of Deleston's family hails from the Charleston, S.C., area. Negotiations also have been tricky because the family of the victims is also related to the accused, Porter said.
"It's a family issue, and we've been trying to be sensitive to that," Porter said. "They're in an awful spot. They are torn between the two."
Lyle Porter, the attorney representing Terrell, did not return a call seeking comment Friday.
Deleston's three children had different fathers. The rapper Juvenile (whose real name is Terius Gray) fathered Jelani, but was estranged from Deleston. He has consistently declined to talk about the case.
Dominique Ross, the father of Micaiah who lives near Jacksonville, thinks Terrell will probably never get out of prison, but he still can lead a productive life.
"If he could help any kid that comes across him and help them to be a better person, I think that is his life," Ross said. "That is the good that he could offer anybody. Even himself."
In June, Ross started the Micaiah Deleston Foundation for Families to provide a support network to families who have been victimized by domestic violence. It also aims to teach youths life management skills that could prevent them from getting into trouble.
Ross, a former NFL running back with the Dallas Cowboys, said he has re-examined his own life in the wake of the tragedy. In doing so, he has been struck by the plight of young people who, like him, grew up idolizing all the wrong things. Terrell had been hanging out with the wrong crowd and was probably negatively influenced by that, relatives have said.
"We idolize going to jail. We idolize if you're cheating on your wife," Ross said. "And the thing is, it all plays a part in why we disrespect each other, to the point of taking somebody's life."
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