The two women involved in a fatal gang-related drug robbery in Columbus’ Upatoi neighborhood have been sentenced in Muscogee Superior Court.
Each pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, and each was sentenced to 20 years’ probation.
Their sentences varied widely from those of four men who also pleaded guilty in the Jan. 18, 2020, home invasion that left 21-year-old Cross Henderson mortally wounded in his Upatoi Ridge Drive home.
Mercedes Annmarie Kraft and Toni Nicole Toole were teenagers in a gang known as FNG that at gunpoint confronted Henderson and some guests who had gathered in the backyard.
The gang marched them inside before separating Henderson from the others and ordering him upstairs, where Henderson’s mother Autumn Lynn Tillery had stashed a supply of drugs in a second-floor bathroom, investigators said.
Henderson was shot from behind as he ran upstairs yelling for his mother to call 911. He collapsed in her bedroom.
The intruders then took other captives upstairs, where the two females brought bags to collect the loot. The robbers fled in a white car, their coming and going recorded on a neighbor’s security cameras.
Though the intruders tried to disguise themselves with shirts tied around their faces, a victim told detectives he recognized one man who had attended Columbus’ Northside High School with Henderson, authorities said. Henderson graduated from Northside in 2016.
Five of the six suspects had robbed Tillery the week before, but it was not reported to police, so the gang decided to do it again, detectives said.
All were captured after Toole and Kraft told detectives what happened. The men made plea deals with prosecutors in February, and the women entered “cold pleas,” meaning they were offered no specific sentence. The maximum for robbery is 20 years in prison.
At the time of the crime, Kraft was 17 years old, and Toole was 16.
Toole was sentenced Dec. 1. Judge John Martin sentenced Kraft on Friday.
The judge told her she could have been convicted of murder, but the prosecution recognized that she and Toole gave police the information that cleared the case and led to the guilty pleas.
“It’s clear that what you did was of significant value,” Martin told Kraft, noting her revelations had jeopardized her safety. “You did so at risk to yourself,” he said.
Besides probation, he ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 400 hours of community service. Toole was given 300 hours of community service.
Both Kraft and Toole served some jail time after their arrests: Toole for 245 days and Kraft for 222 days.
Both were sentenced as first offenders, meaning that if they complete their probation without another offense, their records will be cleared.
The men got harsher penalties than the women.
Anthony Nathan Foster, 26, pleaded to home invasion, armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and violating Georgia’s gang terrorism act. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison with 18 to serve and the rest on probation.
Laqwane Demarcus Kindred, 29, pleaded to robbery. He was to be sentenced to 15 years in prison with seven to serve and the rest on probation. Kindred was not involved in the first robbery at Tillery’s home, police said. Like the women, he also was sentenced as a first offender.
Trevonius Tyriq Williams, 25, pleaded guilty to murder, home invasion, armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and violating the gang terrorism act. He was sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole, meaning he will serve at least 30 years before he’s eligible for release.
Ceuion Marque English. 26, pleaded to home invasion, armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and violating the gang terrorism act. Martin sentenced him to 30 years in prison with 20 to serve and the rest on probation.
Prosecutors said Williams shot Henderson in the buttocks, telling the victim, “Sorry about your a--.” The bullet penetrated vital organs, and Henderson died at the hospital.