CONYERS -- Markus Isiah Seymore pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and armed robbery charges Tuesday morning in Rockdale County Superior Court, moments before his trial was to begin. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Seymore, 17, of Atlanta, was one of three men accused of robbing the GameStop store in Conyers on Nov. 11. The robbery resulted in the shooting death of Adrian Tyrone Snow, 39, a customer who was forced into the store during the robbery.
Seymore's co-defendants, Giovannet Maddox, 27, of 1200 Glenwood Ave., and Tron Lamar Hill, 25, both from Atlanta, will be tried separately and also face murder and armed robbery charges.
Jurors had arrived at the courthouse and planned to hear opening arguments begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Seymore's attorney, Rockdale County Public Defender Owen Humphries, asked Rockdale County Superior Court Judge David Irwin for 10 minutes with his client to discuss "new information" before the trial started.
When they returned, Humphries and Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read announced Seymore had accepted a plea agreement.
Seymore waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to enter a guilty plea to charges of felony murder, armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping involving Snow and the store clerk, firearm and obstruction of law enforcement charges.
Seymore was sentenced by Irwin to life without parole plus five years. The murder and armed robbery charges carry the life sentence with all others running concurrently except for the five years given for firearm possession during a commission of a felony.
Read recommended life without the possibility of parole. Humphries argued that Seymore be given the chance for parole. He told the court that Seymore could not be eligible for parole for 30 years, when he turns 47 years old, and there was no guarantee he would be released then.
Humphries also said Seymore was sorry for Snow's death and he was placed under suicide watch at the county jail.
"Though this does not justify the armed robbery, shooting Mr. Snow was not part of the plan," Humphries said. "It was an accident."
Humphries added that at 17, Seymore was the youngest of the group; the other men were in their mid-20s and had criminal records. "He fell under the sway of much worse individuals," Humphries said.
Before sentencing, Seymore stood up and expressed remorse for Snow's death.
"I apologize to the victim. I apologize to the victim's family, to the court and to Rockdale County," he said.
Read told the court about Snow on the day he was shot. The 39-year-old Stone Mountain man enjoyed playing video games and had reserved a copy of "Call to Duty: Black Ops" at the store. Snow had worked for 21 days straight at his job with a Marietta furniture company and went to the store to pick up the game and was looking forward to a day off.
Seymore and another gunman had entered the store and tied up the store clerk in the back. When they saw Snow on the security camera monitor, they believed he was another clerk reporting to work.
Snow was forced into the store at gunpoint. Read said Snow reached for Seymore's gun and he was shot in the hand. Snow had his cellphone on and a friend on the other end heard what was going on.
"Mr. Snow was saying 'OK, OK, OK' when Mr. Seymore shot him in the left shoulder," Read said. The bullet went down into Snow's chest and tore a hole in the right pulmonary artery.
"His friend heard a shot ... Mr. Snow called back his friend and told him to call 911."
Snow's family asked for life without parole during testimony in the sentencing phase. Crystal Bledsoe, Snow's girlfriend who lives in Conyers, told the court that Snow had started a new job and the night before the shooting, they discussed their budget for the coming year with hopes of getting married this year.
"We had so many plans," she said.
Later, Bledsoe asked the court for life without parole. "He carelessly handed Adrian the death sentence," Bledsoe said.
Irwin followed Read's recommendation in sentencing Seymore. Irwin told Seymore he was simply a bully "with a gun being something."
"You learned today or that day that this community will stand up to bullies," Irwin said.