Columbus, GA jury returns verdict in fatal robbery trial

Lydell Sparks, left, talks to defense attorney Michael Garner as they await the jury's verdict in Sparks' Columbus murder trial.

Lydell Sparks, left, talks to defense attorney Michael Garner as they await the jury’s verdict in Sparks’ Columbus murder trial.

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Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of a Columbus man accused of killing a visitor from Montgomery, Alabama, two women lured here via Facebook Messenger before he was shot.

Lydell Maynard “Trapa” Sparks was tried for murder, armed robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime. After two hours of deliberation, the jury found him guilty on all counts.

Sparks, 21, now faces a maximum of life in prison without parole, prosecutors said. Superior Court Judge John Martin has yet to sentence Sparks or his co-defendants.

Sparks wiped tears from his eyes as deputies led him out of the courtroom. Some of her followers also cried, and one lost her temper outside in a Government Center hallway, swearing loudly and eventually rushing to the bathroom to vomit.

More than a dozen people from Henry’s family were in the courtroom. They hugged and wept as they heard the verdict, after attending every day of the week-long trial.

The system of government

Sparks was among four suspects charged with robbing and killing Travis Henry Jr., 22, after co-defendants Terreona Horton and Kalaya Sumter flirted with the victim on Facebook, ultimately tricking him into coming to Columbus on June 21, 2020 .

He arrived in Columbus in his black BMW around 9 p.m., was shot shortly after 11:30 p.m., and was found dead about eight hours later at the intersection of 17th Avenue and Nina Street, where police found him. found face down at the curb, with a wad of cash, a silver necklace, and a cloth gun case either on him or nearby.

Finding her Facebook exchanges with Horton and Sumter, investigators questioned the two women, who initially implicated Sparks and a fourth suspect, Wayman McMillian, also charged with murder.

All but Sparks pleaded guilty and agreed to testify, but taking the witness stand, none admitted to planning a robbery. Horton and Sumter testified that Sparks decided to rob and shoot Henry. McMillian said he was unaware of any robbery scheme and did not see the shooting because it was too dark and too far away.

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Superior Court Judge John Martin holds a jury note during deliberations in the Lydell Sparks murder trial in Columbus. Mike Haskey [email protected]

The lead investigator in Henry’s homicide, Detective Sherman Hayes, testified that both Horton and Sumter detailed the robbery plan, under police questioning, and described the roles Sparks and McMillian played in it. play.

Hayes said Henry came to their attention because he posted photos on Facebook showing he had money, fashionable clothes and nice cars, Hayes said, adding that Sparks had seen the photos and had told Horton that Henry would “do a good lick” or target a robbery.

Henry met the four at Whisperwood Apartments on Flat Rock Road, where Horton got into Henry’s BMW for the downtown Chattahoochee RiverWalk, with the others following in Horton’s Volkswagen Jetta, Hayes said.

Sumter and Horton told police the four planned to rob Henry where they parked on Bay Avenue near a playground and a wading pool, but too many people were there so they had to find a other place.

They left downtown and drove through downtown to Nina Street and 17th Avenue, near the Farley Homes residential complex, and parked there in the dark.

Shooting

Hayes said Sumter told investigators that McMillian got out of the Volkswagen and hid in the bushes as Sparks, holding a gun, made Sumter walk in front of him as they approached the BMW, where Sparks pointed the gun at Henry as Horton exited.

“All I heard was Mr. Sparks saying, ‘Give me everything you got,'” Sumter said.

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Lydell Maynard “Trapa” Sparks, center, moves to the back of the courtroom as he waits for court to resume Tuesday afternoon. 06/14/2022 Mike Haskey [email protected]

Hayes said Henry had a gun in the cloth holster on his belt, so he probably grabbed it when Sparks shot him in the upper torso. then pulled him from the driver’s seat and drove the BMW to Phenix City, with the others following in the Volkswagen.

Sparks left the car at a location chosen by Horton on Brickyard Road in Phenix City, where she had family, and he wiped it down with a shirt before driving off in the Volkswagen with the others, the detective said.

From there, they drove to the Columbus Rotary Park boat launch off Victory Drive, where Sparks walked to the river and threw items he had taken from the BMW, including three iPhones and a diamond bracelet, according to testimony from Sumter, who said Sparks kept Henry’s handgun.

Here are the pleas and recommended sentences of the co-defendants:

  • Sumter, 19, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. His recommended sentence is 15 years with six years to serve and the rest on probation.
  • Horton pleaded May 26 to armed robbery. His recommended sentence is 20 years in prison with eight to be served and the rest on probation.
  • McMillian, 27, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and being a convicted felon with a firearm. His recommended sentence of 15 years with eight to serve and the rest on probation.

This story was originally published June 17, 2022 12:26 p.m.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Alabama, and started as a police reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. Since then, he has covered serial murders and other Columbus homicides, following some from the crime scene to to the verdicts of the trial and subsequent appeals. . He has also been a humor columnist for Ledger-Enquirer since 1987. He graduated from Auburn University and started working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.

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