One of four people indicted in the March shooting death of 17-year-old Hikeem King pleaded guilty Friday morning.
Antonio Lamonta Burton, 21, faces a maximum of 43 years incarceration and up to $100,000 in fines after pleading guilty in Danville Circuit Court to charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. His sentencing date will be set Aug. 27.
In exchange for testimony at the trial of Justin Montel Jones, 21, prosecutors downgraded Burton’s original charge of first-degree murder to second-degree murder. Jones is facing charges of first-degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of a murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
It was during the afternoon of March 10 that Ladreka Shawnta Brandon, 34, drove a car with four passengers up Arnett Boulevard when one of the passengers asked her to stop, Petra Haskins, Danville senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said in court Wednesday. Brandon pleaded guilty to the charge of accessory after homicide and could face a maximum of five years in prison.
The man who made that request was Jones, Haskins said in court.
Both Jones and Burton opened their car doors and fired at King, Danville Commonwealth Attorney Michael Newman said in court Friday. Jones began firing first, and ballistic evidence shows his bullet was responsible for King’s death. Newman described it as a “concert of action.”
Between 10 to 15 rounds were fired, police initially reported.
“He did fire a weapon, but that weapon did not kill Mr. King,” the prosecutor said, referring to Burton.
King was standing next to his car along Arnett Boulevard when he was shot in the head, according to search warrants filed in Danville Circuit Court.
After a brief summary of the evidence was provided for the court Friday morning, Newman requested the evidence be sealed until Jones goes to trial, so as not to influence the jury. Judge Joseph Milam agreed to have the evidence sealed until the trial, which should take place sometime in September.
Burton’s attorney, Michael McPheeters, did not object to any of the evidence provided, but he did try to clarify Burton’s motives.
“The only reason [Burton] fired his gun was because he thought he was being shot at,” he said.
That motive — which Burton already had told the police — would have been his defense in trial, McPheeters said, but he cannot use that because of the conditions of his plea.
Passenger Germany Bryontez Carter, 23, charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, has yet to have a trial date set.
Friday’s plea agreement doesn’t provide any punishment specifications. Those will be decided by the court.
Police initially believed the shooting was gang related. However, during the court proceedings Wednesday and Friday, the prosecution and defense provided no rationale for the shooting — save for Burton believing someone was shooting at him.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.