In August of last year, 33-year-old Martez Terrill Gardner of Ypsilanti Township reportedly shot a man at a Citgo gas station as the man was trying to run away after the men had become involved in an argument who one witness said was over a woman. Gardner was charged with first-degree premeditated murder initially, but has now accepted a plea deal in which he pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.
Gardner was also charged with carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, possessing a firearm as a felon, possessing ammunition as a felon, three counts of felony firearm, and illegally carrying a concealed weapon.
Gardner is a habitual offender, having served time for unarmed robbery, malicious destruction of fire or police property, and probation for other criminal charges. Under the plea agreement his habitual status and first-degree murder charge will be dismissed at sentencing. After pleading no contest, he will serve 30 to 55 years for the death of 25-year-old Derius James.
The conflict between the two men began at a birthday party and continued at another location in Ypsilanti before the deadly shooting occurred at the Citgo station. Video surveillance revealed that James, the victim, threw the first punch, however Gardner took out his gun and fired twice.
First-degree premeditated murder is the most serious criminal charge a person may face. When a defendant pleads not guilty and goes to trial on the charge, a conviction will result in a life prison term. In cases where the evidence is undeniable and the defendant will likely be found guilty, it is often desirable to accept a plea deal in which the accused pleads no contest or guilty to lesser charges. In the above case, the defendant will now face a reduced sentence and perhaps be released from prison in 30 years.
There are many situations in which an innocent individual is wrongly accused of a crime he or she did not commit. Regardless of the circumstances, in order to reach a good outcome and protect your freedom and future it is vital to work with a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer who is dedicated to the best possible result.