Two men pleaded guilty to crimes associated with the fatal shooting of a Raleigh man in a drug deal gone wrong in a motel room in south Durham.
Christopher Ward Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of firearm by a felon.
Ward faced a maximum punishment of 644 months, or nearly 54 years, but under a plea deal was sentenced to 198 months (16.25 years) to 250 months (20.8 years) in state prison.
Davin Duvon Henderson, 27, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. Henderson faced up to 435 months in prison, but under a plea deal he was sentenced from five to seven years in prison.
Both of the men pleaded guilty during hearings held Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Carolyn Thompson.
Henderson and Ward were initially charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and other charges related to the Nov. 27, 2016, fatal shooting of George Beamon, 50, of Raleigh.
Just before 8 p.m. on that day, police responded to a disturbance with a weapon call at Crossland Economy Studios on the 5000 block of N.C. 55 in Durham, said Assistant District Attorney Josephine Kerr Davis. Officers entered the room by using a key card and found a man who told police he witnessed the fatal shooting of Beamon.
The man told police he was using illegal drugs with Beamon when two men, later identified as Ward and Henderson, came into the room. The men began to argue with Beamon, the man told police, and Beamon and Ward produced guns and started firing at each other, Davis said.
Beamon died after being shot three times, Davis said.
Ward eventually told police that it was a drug deal that ultimately turned into an attempted robbery, Davis said.
Ward’s attorney Idrissa Smith said Beaman was selling drugs at the motel and Henderson asked Ward to come with him as a backup.
The two men stepped into the motel room and then left, Smith said.
“Mr. Henderson said, ‘We should just rob him,’” Smith said. “Mr. Ward said, ‘We are not going to do that.’”
The men went back into the room and Henderson asked for the drugs in a way that Beamon believed he was being robbed, Smith said.
Beamon produced a gun, and so did Ward, Smith said.
Ward was shot after a short tussle between Beamon and Ward, Smith said.
After the hearing, Davis said the plea deal takes into consideration the situation and the men’s individual actions, including Henderson cooperating with police.
Henderson didn’t speak during the hearing.
“The situation never was intentional. It was just a misunderstanding,” Ward said to the family. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Beamon’s son, DaShawn, said his father was always there for him. DaShawn Beamon said he has dealt with depression and high blood pressure and has shut down from his family since his father’s death.
“My Pops was my everything,” he said. “My best friend in this world.”