Courts news

A 17-year-old pleaded guilty to conspiring to rob another teen, an act that led to the Aug. 24, 2020, shooting death of Laura Regina Ross at her Shannon home.

Selena Jenae Barnes pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal attempt to commit home invasion, criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault and a criminal attempt to commit robbery.

An indictment filed in January states that Barnes along with Tyree Kozel Daniels, Marvin Leedale Cronan and Thomas Lane Dean Jr. conspired to rob Ross’ grandson Owen Dotson. Most were juveniles at the time of the crime.

Barnes is the first defendant to enter a plea in the case.

The plan stemmed from an April 25, 2020, incident where Dotson had stolen shoes from Dean, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Salmon told Floyd County Superior Court Judge Bryan Johnson. As part of her plea, Barnes testified about the events leading up to the shooting during the Thursday hearing.

She said that she, Dean and Cronan had devised a plan to go to Ross’s home at 126 Baker St. in Shannon, where Dotson lived with his grandmother, beat him up and then rob him.

Daniels had not been involved to that point

“He was a friend of hers and had a car; none of the other defendants had a car,” Salmon said.

Once Daniels got involved, the prosecutor said, things became more serious.

Daniels said he could get a gun. He took the .380 Smith & Wesson from his father’s storage box in Polk County and brought it to the meet-up with the others. Barnes said she stayed in the car when they pulled up to the Baker Street home.

The three boys got out and then Cronan and Daniels approached the house.

Salmon: Who kicked open that door?

Barnes: Lee (Cronan)

Salmon: Who fired the shots into that home?

Barnes: Lee ...

Salmon: Did you hear Mr. Cronan say he had to shoot Ms. Ross because she saw his face?

Barnes: Yes sir.

Cronan, Daniels and Dean jumped in the car to leave and Barnes said she knew they’d shot someone.

“I heard her scream,” she said crying. “She was just screaming in pain.”

Cronan had shot her twice, Salmon said. Ross was able to call 911 but died the next day from her wounds.

Daniels took the gun back home and got a hotel room in Cedartown for the other three, she said. He had to be in school the next day so didn’t stay at the hotel.

Over the next few days, Barnes and Cronan came up with a false alibi, she said, and also talked about ways to pin the crime on Daniels. As part of that plan, they began deleting data from their phones, she told the court, and destroyed Cronan’s phone.

They were all arrested several days later and have been held at the Floyd County Jail or regional youth detention centers.

Judge Johnson ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and said Barnes will be sentenced after the cases are adjudicated for the remaining defendants. Dean is scheduled for a plea hearing in Superior Court on Friday at 1:30 p.m.


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