LaGRANGE — An 18-year-old man indicted for shooting another man while he sat in a car outside a service station on Hamilton Road pleaded guilty to the charges against him Monday afternoon in Troup County Superior Court.
Jakoreyus Dionte Newsom of LaGrange was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm.
On June 8, 2015, Newsom approached a vehicle at the BP gas station at 517 Hamilton Road and shot a 21-year-old man twice in the leg. Detectives testified in Troup County Magistrate Court on July 16, 2015, Newsom was a member of the Gangster Disciples street gang and was motivated to shoot the victim from an order by high-ranking members of the gang in Atlanta.
According to Senior Assistant District Attorney Lynda Caldwell, Newsom had a casual conversation with the victim, walked away from the vehicle, then suddenly turned and fired nine shots into the car. She stated the victim’s gunshot wounds to his leg required extensive surgery.
Caldwell also told the court there were two other people in the car with the victim. One victim was cut on her back by broken glass and the third victim was not hurt.
In accordance with Newsom’s guilty plea on all four charges against him, Caldwell recommended to the court the 18 year old serve a sentence of 15 years in prison to be followed by 10 years on probation.
The Senior Assistant District Attorney argued the defendant ambushed three unarmed victims with the intent to kill them.
“The criminal justice system must be concerned with punishment and deterrence,” she stated. “A message must be sent that our community will not tolerate this type of gun violence.”
Newsom’s defense attorney, Julianne Lynn, argued her client should only serve four years in prison followed by six years on probation.
But presiding Troup County Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon sentenced Newsom to two years in prison followed by 23 years of probation and granted him first offender status.
Coweta Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney Peter Skandalakis gave a brief statement following sentencing.
“I commend the LaGrange Police Department for a job well done, and I am proud of SADA Caldwell for the manner in which she handled this case and argued on behalf of the citizens of Troup County,” he wrote via email.
In a different case, a previously convicted child molester was sentenced on three counts of child molestation and aggravated sexual battery Tuesday.
According to Senior Assistant District Attorney Melissa Himes, the mother of the victim met with LaGrange police Feb. 27, 2014, after learning a former friend, Clifford Willoughby, had molested her daughter several years prior.
Himes said the girl was about 8 or 9 when the molestation occurred. Willoughby would force himself on the girl, kiss her and force her to touch him — many times while the man would be babysitting the victim.
Willoughby was interviewed by investigators and denied the inappropriate behavior.
Himes disclosed to the court the defendant was previously convicted of child molestation in Clayton County and served 10 years in prison.
Willoughby pleaded guilty to the charges against him on Tuesday and was sentenced by Blackmon to 18 years in prison followed by 22 years on probation with sex offender conditions.
“Unfortunately, we see too many of these cases, and they are difficult to investigate and prosecute,” said Skandalakis. “I commend the LaGrange Police Department for the investigation and give thanks for Senior ADA Himes and the manner in which she performed her duties in this case. The victims were not forced to relive their experiences at the hands of Mr. Willoughby, and our children are safer with him off our streets.”
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.