CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for armed robbery after prosecutors told the court he threatened potential witnesses and advertised drugs for sale on social media.
Deandre Montel Stevens, 20, pleaded guilty to the armed robbery charge in connection with a Jan. 4, 2016, incident in North Charleston, according to court records.
The sentence followed a recommendation by prosecutors who learned Stevens had allegedly posted videos to Facebook that threatened family members of the victim and advertised the availability of narcotics for sale.
Larry Grayer, 18, died from a gunshot wound investigators say happened during the robbery attempt.
Zarmell Polite, who was 16 at the time of the robbery, was charged with murder in Grayer's death and Aliya Young, who was 17 at the time of the robbery, was also charged with armed robbery, according to court documents.
A court document from Assistant Ninth Circuit Solicitor Ted Corvey alleges Stevens, Young and Grayer conspired to arrange a fake marijuana deal in order to rob Polite at gunpoint.
Text messages and videos depicting the crime scene in the Walmart parking lot "clearly demonstrate a conspiracy and plan to rob Polite," the document states.
Investigators said videos established Stevens and the two others picked up the victim from his vehicle at the Walmart parking lot and drove to a more secluded part of the lot.
When Stevens and Young got out of the car and went to the trunk, pretending to retrieve something, Polite and Grayer remained in the backseat and Grayer produced a handgun to rob Polite, the document states. Investigators say the video showed Stevens and Young about to get back into the vehicle, and almost simultaneously, Polite stumbles out of the backseat, produces his own gun, and returns fire as he claims Grayer shot him first during a brief struggle in the backseat.
Stevens and Young transported Grayer to an area hospital where Grayer died of his injuries. Stevens and Young were later interviewed by North Charleston Police detectives, ultimately acknowledging the robbery plot to varying degrees, the document states.
Stevens received a $200,000 surety bond for the armed robbery charge the day after the shooting and conditions of bond included provisions he "be of good behavior" and that he have "no contact with the victim nor the family members verbally, electronically, by third party, texting or in writing," the document states.
After prosecutors offered a plea deal to both Stevens and Young to plead guilty to armed robbery or face the possibility of additional murder and conspiracy indictments, the solicitor's office was notified of a 20-minute-long video posted on Facebook by Stevens, the document states.
The video "depicts [Stevens] engaged in what appears to be drug use," the document states, and depicts [Stevens] and a brother of the robbery victim engaging in an argument "that escalates to both individuals displaying firearms and making repeated violent threats toward one another," the document states.
"A further review of [Stevens'] Facebook account depicts numerous postings advertising the sale of narcotics, as recently as the day the video was discovered," the document states.
Prosecutors moved for an emergency bond revocation on March 2 after learning of the videos and a judge issued a bench warrant for Stevens, who failed to appear for the bond hearing, the document states. Corvey said Stevens surrendered himself to law enforcement on April 6.
Prosecutors recommended a 15-year-sentence, noting Stevens is 18 and has no prior records and acknowledging "younger people can make grave mistakes without realizing the gravity of their consequences."
"However, even further troubling to the State is Defendant's conduct since this initial crime," Corvey wrote. "While a one-off mistake that is completely out of character can be explained, the Defendant has continued to violate the terms of bond conditions by brazenly advertising the sale of illegal drugs and threatening family members of the robbery victim with gun violence seemingly as a way to intimidate potential State witnesses against him at trial."