DURHAM - A teenager pleaded guilty Monday to being an accessory after the fact to three felonies with the promise that he would testify against a man accused of murder.
Dequanta Bass, 16, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, accessory after the fact to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and accessory after the fact to armed robbery Monday morning in Durham County Criminal Superior Court.
He will be sentenced in April and under the plea agreement, he will receive an active sentence of 13 to 16 months and be given credit for time served.
As a condition of the plea agreement, he must testify truthfully against Darrius Tyson, who is alleged to have shot two men in September, 2010, killing one and seriously injuring the other.
Assistant District Attorney Teresa Pressley told Superior Court Judge Michael O’Foghludha that Bass was 14 and riding in the very back of a Toyota Rav with five other young men.
The men were Tyson, Steven Mack, Demetrius Yarborough, Deandre Roosevelt Rucker and Sherwin Bilal Archie, Pressley said. They intended to rob a drug dealer but when they went to his house, Mack recognized an undercover car of a school resource officer, so they left the area and began heading down Chapel Hill Boulevard, Pressley said.
Rucker was driving, and they saw three Hispanic men walking along the side of the road. They pulled in and waited for the three men to walk in front of them, Pressley said.
The men in the car began yelling at the three men, but they did not understand English. That’s when Tyson allegedly shot one of the Hispanic men a, Pressley said.
As the wounded man fell, he yelled at the other two men to run for their lives as Tyson allegedly continued to fire. A bullet hit Bernardo Medina Ponce in the hand, and as he turned back, he saw his wounded friend was aspirating blood. He ran back to help.
Even as nearby residents began calling 911 for help, Tyson allegedly shot Ponce twice, killing him, Pressley said.
Bass was in the back cargo area of the small SUV throughout the shooting.
“He had no idea the murder was going to take place, and he was screaming and crying,” Pressley told the judge.
Bass ran away, but once he was taken into custody, he has been remorseful and polite, Pressley said.
Woodrena Baker-Harrell, who represented Bass, told the judge that after the shooting Bass did not immediately come forward because he was scared.
“He was very scared of the gunmen and what would happen to him if he tried to tell what went on,” she said.
During the first two months she represented Bass, it was difficult to have a conversation with him, Baker-Harrell said.
“I couldn’t finish talking to him because he broke down in tears,” she said.
Bass always talked about how badly he felt about what happened and how he wished he could have prevented it, she said.
Ponce’s wife and brother attended the hearing but declined to speak.
All the other defendants in the case, except Tyson, have entered pleas in the case and are also scheduled to testify against Tyson.
Baker-Harrell turned to Ponce’s family and said that Bass wanted to apologize for not coming forward earlier.