Eight years for murder

Published 8:17 pm Friday, June 5, 2015

A 23-year-old man was sentenced Friday to eight years to serve for his role in an attempted robbery that ended in murder.

Akeem Deshawn Lee Lassiter, of Sunbury, N.C., admitted to driving himself and three others to the home of William Kendale Jordan, 27, early in the morning of Dec. 17, 2012. Jordan lived on Dutch Road in the rural southwestern portion of the city.

Lassiter testified Friday that he didn’t know two of the others with him — Michael Jamil Eason and Cassius Quamaine Norfleet — planned a robbery until they were almost at Jordan’s house.

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“It was supposed to just be me taking them to get something to eat,” Lassiter said. Then the others started asking if they could acquire drugs from Jordan, with whom Lassiter said he was “good friends.”

So the foursome drove to Jordan’s house, with Lassiter behind the wheel. He testified it wasn’t until they arrived at a stop sign near Jordan’s home that he learned what was to take place.

“I did my best to talk them out of it,” Lassiter testified Friday. “I didn’t even get out of the vehicle. I would have never brought nobody to his house to do anything bad to him.”

Lassiter said he didn’t abandon the car and its occupants because it was raining and he didn’t know anybody else that lived on that street.

“I don’t necessarily know if I would have been safe,” he said, indicating one of the others may have harmed him for interfering with the plans.

His defense attorney, Robert Hagans Jr., said Lassiter has earlier said he was a long way from home and the only one with a license.

“One of them might have gotten in the car and driven there anyway,” Hagans said.

According to previous court testimony, Eason and Norfleet got out of the car and went into the house. Jordan shot at the intruders but missed. Norfleet returned fire, killing Jordan.

Hagans called Lassiter a “case-buster” and said the case may never have been solved without his cooperation with police. Lassiter was the first one arrested, nearly six months after the crime.

“It was a cold case, his mother told him to tell the truth, and he did,” Hagans said. “We hope that will count for something today.”

Lassiter’s parents, two aunts and his pastor testified on his behalf on Friday. They said he was a good kid who always helped his relatives around the house, made the honor roll and helped younger kids learn how to play basketball and football.

“If you could just give him a chance, I know it’s something he would never do again,” said his aunt, Carolyn Eason. “He has told me so many times if he could take that night back … because that wasn’t him.”

Lassiter echoed that sentiment in his own testimony.

“Spare me this one time, and you ain’t got to worry about me no more,” he said.

Jordan’s family members did not testify on Friday, as they have spoken about the effects of the crime in court before. Judge L. Wayne Farmer said he would take their previous testimony into account. They talked about how Jordan left behind a child.

“It’s a sad case for everybody involved,” prosecutor Will Jamerson said. “We have a 27-year-old man dead. He left behind a child that’s got to grow up without a father.”

Regarding Lassiter, Jamerson said, “This is a prime example of what happens when you get involved with the wrong people, no matter how good a kid you are.”

Farmer said he was sentencing Lassiter to only eight years because of his cooperation with police and the fact he pleaded guilty.

“I do believe you when you say you did not leave your house with the intent this would happen,” Farmer said. “I believe, as Mr. Hagans indicated, there is hope for you.”

Lassiter received a five-year active sentence for second-degree murder and the mandatory three years for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Lassiter will have a 35-year suspended sentence hanging over his head after his release from prison, which also includes fully suspended sentences for attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Lassiter’s co-defendants, Eason and Norfleet, both are awaiting sentencing. The fourth person in the car, who never exited the vehicle, was not charged.