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Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:00 am

Shooter admits guilt in wrong-man slaying

Murder charge gone; plea bargain calls for 17.5-year sentence

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne man accused of shooting to death a man he thought was a rival gang member in 2016 pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter.

Derek R. Ford, 20, had been charged with murder in the death of Robert “Bobby” Moore, 55. Court documents say Ford and another man fired shots at Moore and others at a home on Avondale Drive around 11 p.m. Sept. 20, 2016.

A plea agreement calls for Ford to spend 171/2 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.

The murder charge would have brought a sentence of at least 45 years. Prosecutors agreed to drop that charge and an enhancement for using a firearm to commit the crime, according to the plea agreement.

Trevon Sullivan drove Ford, Kahmarri Spencer and Daelon Locke to the 4000 block of Avondale Drive, where they spotted people they thought were rival gang members on the porch of a home, investigators said. Spencer pulled the car into a nearby alley, and Ford and Spencer got out and started firing toward the porch, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in March 2017.

Gloria Winston, Moore's sister, told police she saw “numerous flashes” but couldn't see who was firing. The next thing she knew, court documents say, Moore was lying on the porch.

He was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, doctors said.

“Spencer advised that shortly after the shooting they discovered that the person who was killed was not their intended target,” the affidavit states.

Spencer, 19, and Sullivan, 23, each were initially charged with murder but pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Sullivan pleaded guilty in August to assisting a criminal, and Spencer pleaded guilty to aiding aggravated battery.

The men were set to testify against Ford at trial.

Locke was never charged in the case.

In a letter to Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull last week, Ford complained that his co-defendants were able to enter pleas to lesser charges.

In court Friday, Ford admitted to Magistrate Samuel Keirns that he shot Moore. A sentencing hearing is set for May 18.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Stineburg said members of Moore's family plan to speak at the sentencing hearing.

Spencer and Sullivan are scheduled to be sentenced April 20 and 24, respectively. 

mleblanc@jg.net