VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man accused in a deadly 2016 shooting incident in Virginia Beach has pleaded guilty to charges including murder.
The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said Tuesday Marquel Leary entered a guilty to plea to charges including first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding and conspiracy.
Authorities say Taiwan Simon was killed in an exchange of gunfire during a planned robbery gone wrong at an apartment complex on Overlook Court.
According to the Commonwealth, the July 2016 incident stemmed from a fight between Leary and another man who live at the apartment complex.
Following this fight, Leary got a group of five others together and came up with a plan to get back at this man by robbing him of his debit card and a revolver.
The group included Leary, Sean Patterson, Casheon Jones, Maurice Walters, Anton Jones and a juvenile. All six were eventually charged in connection with the incident.
They had planned for three members of the group — Patterson, Walters and the juvenile — to go up to the man’s apartment and smoke weed with him in order to “get him relaxed” to find the debit card and revolver, according to the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth says the remaining three people of the group — including Leary — would stay behind and storm the apartment when given the word. On the way to the apartment, Patterson and Leary were talking with Simon on Twitter.
The Commonwealth says Simon was the person who had the PIN for the debit card, and posted it to Twitter for the group to access.
Simon, who was in the apartment at the time, reportedly said on Twitter the group should abandon the plan and that he would be ready with his gun to stop them.
However, the group went to the apartment and proceeded with the plan.
Patterson, Walters and the juvenile ran into three people, including Simon, on their way up to the man’s apartment.
The Commonwealth says one of these people called the man, telling him there were people outside who were going to harm him.
According to the Commonwealth, Walters overheard this “tip-off” and sent a text to Joshua, telling the rest of the group to go forward with the robbery.
Joshua and Leary then went up the steps to the apartment, with guns drawn. The man was standing outside of his apartment door, with a revolver.
Leary and the man then exchanged gunfire — with Leary getting shot in the stomach and the man shot in the leg.
The Commonwealth says Simon was struck in the head by one of 11 rounds that Leary fired in the exchange.
Police accused Leary’s mother, Marie Leary, of planning to hire a hitman to keep witnesses and co-defendants in this case quiet.
Four of the six suspects in the case have pleaded guilty to charges. The juvenile was charged with conspiracy and is criminally in the Department of Juvenile Justice system.
2016 VB apartment incident suspects
Patterson pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and is set to be sentenced Sept. 26.
Jones pleaded guilty to malicious wounding, conspiracy, and accessory after the fact. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.
Walters pleaded guilty to malicious wounding, attempted robbery and conspiracy, and is set to be sentenced Sept. 18.
The sixth person charged, Anton Joshua, is set for a jury trial Sept. 5. He is facing charges of first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, attempted robbery, conspiracy, and three counts of use of firearm.
Leary is expected to be sentenced in Oct. 25.