A teenage girl was shot to death in a ditch in Durham while another teen was shot in the face and pretended to play dead so the shooters would leave.
The three men and three women behind the drug-related shootings on Aug. 24, 2015 went to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings afterwards, according to court statements.
On Friday, more than seven years later, three of the people who were accomplices in the killing of 18-year-old Dymond Fowler and the shooting of 17-year-old Alexis Patterson received their sentences.
Jesús Arce, 31, Brittany Lassiter, 29, and Dominique Faulkner, 26, took plea deals with the state for cooperating with authorities, leading to a major murder conviction.
The fourth defendant, Alezai Clay, 26, was not present for a plea deal due to her attorney working in a separate trial on Friday.
The plea deals involved the dismissal of some felony charges and mitigated sentences in exchange for previously providing testimonies in court that led to the conviction of Quashaun Niajel Slade, the man who orchestrated the plot.
Slade, 23 years old at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to life in prison in 2020, The News & Observer reported previously.
Fowler and Patterson's families were not present for the sentencing. The defendants' families were present.
'A horrendous case'
The most serious charges and longest sentence on Friday was given to Arce, who received an aggravated sentence of 121 months, or roughly 10 years in prison.
Arce pleaded guilty to charges of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping.
Arce is the "third most culpable" person in the shootings, said special state prosecutor Boz Zellinger.
The other male suspect charged in the shooting, Donovan Bright, was killed in July 2021 in a Durham shooting while out on bond, Zellinger said.
Bright was accused of pulling the trigger in the shootings, according to the prosecution.
"It's a horrendous case in which two teenagers were suspected of stealing a small amount of weed and didn't appear to have actually stolen the marijuana, but regardless were kidnapped and dragged to a rural location and shot," Zellinger said.
Patterson suffered debilitating injuries and permanent nerve damage from surviving the shooting, Zellinger said.
Arce was 24 years old when the day of the shootings, and helped Slade in his plan to kidnap Fowler and Patterson for ransom and later kill them as retaliation for stolen marijuana.
He later assisted Slade in switching out the vehicle used to take the teenage girls to a rural area on Glenn Road in northeastern Durham County, where they were shot.
Durham murder accomplices sentenced
The women who took plea deals on Friday were teenagers at the time of the shootings and were pressured to be a part of the crime, according to their defense attorneys.
Lassiter was charged with one count of accessory after the fact to first-degree kidnapping and received a mitigated sentence of 15 months in prison.
Lassiter was romantically involved with Slade at the time of the crime and "bravely faced her ex and testified in trial," her attorney told the judge.
Faulkner pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree kidnapping.
While in jail, Slade communicated with Faulkner from his cell by draining his toilet and talking to her through a sewage pipe. He made death threats to her if she didn't take back statements she made to authorities, according to previous court statements.
Defense attorneys explained to Superior Court Judge John Dunlow that since 2015, the defendants had served time in jail, were all raising children and worked full-time after being released from jail.
The fourth defendant's plea deal arrangement was delayed to a later date.
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