A Winston-Salem man was sentenced to prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge linked to a shooting death in November 2017.
Tyler Jaquan Gethers, 19, formerly of Reid Street, pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Judge Athena Brooks sentenced Gethers to serve 21 months to 35 months in prison and gave him credit for the 21 months he spent in the Forsyth County jail while he awaited his court hearing. Brooks also put Gethers on post-release supervision after he serves his prison term.
“That can be as helpful to you or as hurtful to you as you want it to be,” Brooks told Gethers in regard to his sentence.
Gethers was initially charged with accessory after the fact of a murder in connection with a shooting on Nov. 3, 2017, in which Leon Denard Conrad Jr., 20, died at the scene.
Another man, Rechard Sylvester Hall, 22, suffered a serious gunshot wound to a shoulder that, Winston- Salem police said at the time, was not life-threatening. Hall was treated at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
According to police, Conrad and Hall were in a vehicle in the 1700 block of Richard Allen Lane in Winston-Salem when they were shot about 5:30 p.m. The shooter or shooters then left the scene in a vehicle.
Under a plea agreement, the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the accessory charge against Gethers.
Prosecutor Jonathan Shrader told Brooks that investigators searched Gethers’ house on Nov. 29, 2017, and found a AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in Gethers’ bedroom. Investigators conducted the search after they found photos on social media that showed Gethers with various guns, Shrader said.
Detectives then interviewed Gethers who told them that he “had a firearm that had bodies on it,” Shrader said.
Gethers told police that two people gave him the rifle to keep inside his house, the prosecutor said, but investigators don’t have any evidence that Gethers was involved in the shooting.
He was on probation when he was arrested on the accessory charge, Shrader said. Gethers was convicted in August 2017 of attempted malicious injury and damage to real property by an incendiary device, court records show.
Shrader said Gethers is a validated member of the Bloods gang in Winston-Salem.
Police Lt. Gregory Dorn, who didn’t attend Gethers’ plea hearing, said investigators haven’t arrested the suspected shooter in connection with Conrad’s death and Hall’s gunshot wound.
“We do have leads in the investigation, but have not reached the level to charge yet,” Dorn said in an email. “We do not have evidence that the murder was motivated by gang-on-gang violence.”
At the court hearing, Ronald Short, Gethers’ attorney, explained his client’s actions to the judge.
“I guess he was trying to do someone a favor,” Short said of Gethers keeping the rifle that was used in the shooting inside his house. “And that’s why he’s standing here today.”
Gethers completed the ninth grade before he dropped out of school, Short said.
“He hung around with the wrong people,” the attorney said. “He understands that that there are better things to do than to get in trouble.”
After the hearing, Short said Gethers wasn’t at the scene of the shooting sin November 2017 and doesn’t know who pulled the trigger.
“It seems like everyone has got a gun, and they are not afraid to use it,” Short said.